Enjoy Pie for Dinner

By midsummer, home gardens and local farmers’ markets are producing some of the freshest and tastiest vegetables of the year. Combining them into a pie is a perfect way to enjoy these seasonal delights.

This week’s recipe is quite versatile. You can substitute almost any combination of your favorite fresh veggies. Choose a multitude of colors to make the dish pop and to provide diners with a range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. A mixture of yellow and green summer squash, for example, provides vitamins C and A, as well as dietary fiber.

In addition to the natural savor of the veggies, a touch of marjoram imparts a delicate flavor to the pie. This herb, which is much underutilized in the U.S., is often substituted with oregano. But it has an interesting history of its own. In the Middle Ages, bridal couples wore wreaths of marjoram to symbolize their love and happiness. In England it was added to beer as a preservative and to provide an aromatic flavor.

Grape seed oil is another unique ingredient in this week’s dish. This neutral tasting oil is low in saturated fat and rich in vitamin E. It is a great choice for stir-fries thanks to its high smoke point, which allows it to be heated to high temperatures. If you don’t have any on hand, virgin olive oil (not extra-virgin) makes a nice substitute.

Although it is best known for its contribution to fondue dishes, Gruyere adds an earthy flavor to the pie. This savory cheese, which originated in Switzerland, is made from cow’s milk and cured anywhere from three to ten months. A little goes a long way, so it makes the perfect topping for this simple and flavorful summer classic.

Summer Vegetable Pie - Makes 4 servings.

1 Tbsp. grape seed oil (virgin olive oil may be substituted)

1 small to medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices*

1 yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch pieces*

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 pieces*

8 oz. sliced mushrooms, cleaned

1 yellow bell pepper, diced*

1 green bell pepper, diced*

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. dried marjoram

1 tsp. dried thyme

2 refrigerated ready-made 9-inch pie crusts (whole wheat if available)

1/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

*You can substitute almost any variety or combination of fresh vegetables, but cut them into about the same size to ensure even cooking.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 1 minute. Add garlic and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes to ensure onion is soft and garlic is not burned. Add all vegetables and cook until they are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, marjoram and thyme. Remove from heat.

Remove the pie crusts from their tins and place on a baking sheet. Stack vegetables in the center of each pie crust, leaving a 1 to 2 inch border. Fold the sides of the piecrust all the way around, leaving most of the vegetables exposed. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the vegetable medley. Bake until cheese melts and the pie crust is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 servings (4 servings per pie).

Per serving: 230 calories, 10 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 23 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 380 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $86 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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