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By Laura Stec

Pie Brings People Together

Uploaded: Nov 25, 2020

Listening to the radio these days, so many stories are about food. NPR was interviewing a baker a couple days ago and I caught him saying, “Pie brings people together.”

I said to myself I said, “Self, this sounds right.” We need a little come-in together. Some way forward. That’s worth writing about.

If you were a Food Party! regular you may have noticed we haven’t been Food Partying! lately, well at least not in public. We kept writing through May, but COVID really slowed me down. I got into the pandemic groove shall we say. Stepped off the tread mill, closed the calendar. Started to enjoy life as a human being, rather than just a human doing.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
- The Byrds

It felt good to take a writers rest. There’s too many words out there already– so much blather. Why add more? Still, I kept thinking about writing this or that. If Food was on the Ballot was a title scribbled on awhile. (Why does food never get political attention, and if it did, what are the issues?) Why People Don’t Mask Up - Our Stomach Explains, was another topic of perusal. (Due to bad diet and poor digestion, many Americans avoid masks simply because they don’t like the smell of their own breath).

But pie brings people together was the catalyst worth uniting paper back to pen.

Pie brings people together.

In this spirit, we celebrate a recipe. A pie recipe…but different. One with variety of flavors to keep our taste buds and brain entertained. One that mixes unexpected ingredients into something new and exciting. An easy pie to execute because the rigidity of the crust is replaced by the flexible fold-over galette dough. And a new use for holiday leftovers.

You might see it as a pie that exhibits the value of diversity, and the importance of less stress and renewed purpose. A pie that shows what wonderful things can happen when we combine different ingredients in unexpected ways, taking us all to a better place. A pie that pushes us off our comfort levels into new ways of being. A pie that teaches us to grow.

Or, you might just see it as a tasty treat.

This recipe delivers on both.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.
May they be filled with delicious, transformative pies.

Sage Pumpkin Galette w/ Spiced Pepitas & Vegan Jerky

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, sliced thin and caramelized*
1 (2# or so) kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and sliced 1?4-inch thick
1 cup full fat ricotta cheese – buy the best, freshest you can find, or try almond vegan ricotta
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
2-3 tablespoons kalamata olives, sliced thin
Dry Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Gluten-free Date Galette Dough*
Elaine’s Spiced Pepitas
Vegan Jerky (or your favorite) grated fine

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix kabocha squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, put single layer on a baking sheet, and bake, covered with foil, for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake till tender, 5 – 10 minutes more. Cool.

Roll galette dough out into a 14” round on lightly floured surface. Transfer to baking sheet covered with parchment. Cover with ricotta, then squash, onions, sage leaves. Sprinkle with olives and grated Jack cheese. Fold the pastry over and on top on squash. Brush with olive oil and bake 35 – 40 minutes until crust is browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Garnish with Elaine’s Spiced Pepitas and grated jerky-of-choice.

Elaine’s Spiced Pepitas
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Combine above ingredients. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in pan or iron skillet to medium heat. Add 1 cup pumpkin seeds and stir to coat. When seeds start to puff, add spice mixture and toast until light brown.

Caramelized Onions
Slice your onion thin. Add1tablespoon oil to a NOT-nonstick pan, bring to medium heat, add onions, stir. Don’t add salt yet. Brown the onions on medium heat till well caramelized, at least 10 minutes. Don’t rush the onions or they will burn, so control the heat. Add stock when moisture is needed and to deglaze the pan (scrap up the browned bits). Add salt when onions are well caramelized. Adding salt before interferes with the browning process.

Gluten-free Date Galette Dough

I’ve been using Bob’s Redmill all-purpose gf flour lately and really like the results.

1.5 cups all-purpose GF flour (substitute regular white flour)
2 teaspoons date sugar or sugar of choice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold, cubed unsalted butter

Whirl together flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse into pea-size pieces. Drizzle 1/3’rd cup very cold water over crumbs and pulse just until moistened. Add additional 1 – 2 tablespoons of water as needed. Turn dough onto a work surface and gather into a ball, turning to pick up crumbs. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for one hour.

*substitute your favorite pie crust recipe, or thaw two frozen pie crusts.

If you want even more flavor, add some finely chopped olives, or shredded cheese along the section of the pastry where it folds over, creating a “stuffed crust” as seen in pizzerias.