Pie in the Sky
Six simple summer pies
Recipes and Photography by Kim Byer
Sure, this isn’t the summer we imagined. It’s surreal in so many ways – as if the world tilted upside-down and we’re staring into a deep blue pool above us and an endless sky below. Poolside parties, roller coaster rides, and lazy river days aren’t a given. We’re desperately seeking summer any way we can.
We’re stretching our ingredients into multiple meals, wasting less, and appreciating time around the table. Our meals are more meaningful than ever. And if we can spare, we share.
In the spirit of sharing, we’ve created six simple savory and sweet pies. Make them as written or substitute ingredients with what you have on hand. The Vidalia Onion, the Bacon, Basil & Tomato, and the Blueberry Ice Box are particularly pie-in-the-sky delicious!
As the temperatures crank up, you might just find that digging into a slice of ice-cold Strawberry Margarita Pie is the sweet treat you need to help soothe your summer soul.
Vidalia Onion Pie
Yields one 8-inch crustless pie
Butter or olive oil, divided use
1 cup grated cheese, such as white cheddar, Gruyere, mozzarella, etc.
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
5 cups sweet Vidalia onions, sliced in concentric circles (1/4 inch thick or less)
½ teaspoon salt, divided use
1 or 2 thyme sprigs (leaves removed from stems) + extra sprigs for topping
1 five-ounce can evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Garlic Aioli (optional)
½ cup mayonnaise (Duke’s)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter or oil. Layer the bottom of the pan with 1 cup cheese of choice + ½ cup Parmesan. Press slightly up the side.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter over medium heat. Add onions and ¼ teaspoon salt and sauté until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk five eggs with the evaporated milk. Add remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.
Layer caramelized onions over cheese. Whisk wet ingredients and pour over onions.
Bake for 30 minutes or until center is set.
To make the garlic aioli, mix the mayonnaise with the minced garlic. Top each slice with a dollop of garlic aioli and a thyme sprig. Pie will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Fresh Corn & Jalapeño Pie
Yields one 8 or 9-inch crustless pie
2 ½ cups fresh corn off the cob (approximately 3-4 ears)
3 large eggs, beaten
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili pepper, cumin, and/or coriander
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
¼ cup unsalted butter
Grated cotija cheese (or Mexican crumbling cheese), sour cream or mayonnaise, cayenne pepper or chili pepper and lime wedges, for serving
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix corn, eggs, and jalapeños. In a separate small bowl whisk together flour, sugar, chili pepper, cumin, coriander and salt. Stir seasoning mix into the corn mixture.
Melt butter and pour into an 8-inch pie pan. Using a serving spoon, gently ladle corn mixture over the butter and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. Top with grated cotija cheese, a dollop of sour cream or mayonnaise, cayenne pepper or chili pepper. Serve as a side with lime wedges. Pie will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Bacon, Basil & Tomato Pie
Yields one 9-inch, deep-dish crustless pie
3 large tomatoes, sliced + any small tomatoes for top of pie
4-6 rashers bacon
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 cups mixed grated cheese, such as mozzarella and cheddar
½ cup mayonnaise (Duke’s)
¼ cup basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Place sliced tomatoes (peeled, if preferred) into a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to drain for 10-15 minutes while you fry bacon. Drain bacon on paper towels, then tear into small pieces. Fry onion in 1 tablespoon bacon grease. Blot tomatoes with paper towels.
Spread half of cheese into pre-greased, deep-dish pie pan. Layer tomatoes, onions, and bacon.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix eggs with remaining cheese, mayonnaise and pesto. Spread over tomatoes. Place a few tomatoes rounds on top of pie and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 35 minutes. Serve warm. Pie will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Frozen Strawberry Margarita Pie with Salted Pretzel Crust
Yields one 8 or 9-inch, deep-dish frozen pie
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 can (14-ounce) sweetened condensed milk
Zest of 1 lime
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream (+ 2 tablespoons fine sugar) or whipped topping (thawed)
Salted Pretzel Crust
2 cups salted pretzels (sticks are easier to measure)
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a springform pan. Pulse pretzels in a food processor and reduce (about 20 seconds) to a coarse meal. Or, place inside a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine meal with sugar and butter. Press into springform pan and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Rinse food processor bowl. Place strawberries, condensed milk, lime zest and juice, tequila, and orange juice in the bowl and blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
If using heavy whipping cream, pour it along with 2 tablespoons fine sugar into a chilled mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream (or whipped topping) into the strawberry mixture and spoon over crust.
Freeze for 4-5 hours. Remove pie from the freezer an hour before serving. Decorate with strawberries and lime zest. Refreeze any leftovers.
Note: An 8-inch springform pan will allow for a deeper crust.
Banana Pudding Pie
Yields one 8-inch, deep-dish pie
1 Vanilla Wafer Crust (see below)
1 (3.4 ounce) package of instant vanilla pudding
1 ½ cups milk
8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
Vanilla Wafer Crust
1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (½ cup)
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Reserve 20-24 wafers. Place remaining wafers in a food processor and reduce (10-15 seconds) to a fine meal. Or, place inside a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the vanilla wafer meal with the butter and sugar. Using your fingers, press into an 8-inch pre-greased pie pan. Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan and bake for 15 minutes.
Make vanilla pudding by whisking with milk. Wait five minutes and fold in half of the whipped topping. Stir gently. Line the rim with vanilla wafers, overlapping or side-by-side. Spoon half of the pudding mixture over the cooled crust. Layer with banana slices and add remaining pudding.
Top with remaining whipped topping and refrigerate for one hour before serving. Right before serving, top with sliced bananas. Pie will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
Note: Toss bananas in a squeeze or two of lemon juice to prevent browning.
Blueberry Ice-Box Pie
Yields one 9-inch, deep-dish pie
1 Graham Cracker Crust (see below)
2 ½ cups mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, etc.)
1 eight-ounce block of cream cheese at room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup sour cream
1 large egg
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Whipping cream or whipped topping and berries for topping
Graham Cracker Crust
1 package Graham crackers, crushed (about 9 rectangular crackers)
1 stick of high-fat, unsalted butter, melted (½ cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Place Graham crackers in a food processor and reduce to a fine meal (10 seconds). Or, place crackers inside a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
In a medium-sized bowl, blend the Graham cracker meal with the butter and sugar. Press into a pre-greased, 9-inch springform pan (or regular pie pan) and bake for 10 minutes.
Combine cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, egg, zest, juice and salt in the processor and blend until smooth. Add berries and blend for a few seconds until the berries release their color. You don’t want to puree the mixture.
Pour the filling over the crust and bake at 325° for 35 minutes. The filling should be semi-firm when jiggled.
Cool, then refrigerate for several hours. After removing from the springform pan, decorate with whipped cream and fresh berries before serving. Pie will keep in the refrigerator for several days.