Striking Flavour Pairings
It was in The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit that I came across the peculiar pairing of mushroom and blueberry (or so I thought). Apparently used in northern Italy in dishes such as risotto and lasagna, the blueberry is meant to contrast the heartiness of the mushroom. The filling of this savoury pie is mostly mushroom with just a hint of blueberry, for little bursts of tart sweetness. To be honest, it's the stunning indigo of the blueberries that take the spotlight here. It couldn't be more fitting at this time of the year, with its dull grey skies and all.
The savoury pie (or torta salata) is typical in Italian cuisine and is usually filled with pumpkin, greens, cheese, or cured meats, to name a few. Mushrooms are always a favourite and remind me so very much of Abruzzo, where my family is from. I have some precious wild porcini (dried, of course) courtesy of my father's cousin from Le Marche, but didn't use those here -- instead, opting for some locally grown crimini (or mini portobello) mushrooms. Regarding the blueberries, the smaller the better. I have used wild Canadian blueberries, but feel free to use whatever you can get your hands on. Of course, the real highlight of this pie is the olive oil crust, which further enhances the umami and makes the blueberries seem all the more sweet.
Mushroom and Blueberry Savoury Pie
- 150 g unbleached soft flour
- 150 g whole grain flour*
- sea salt
- 100 g extra virgin olive oil
- up to 100 mL ice cold water
- 400 g mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- peperoncino (chili flakes)
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 3 eggs
- 50 g pecorino (or parmigiano), grated
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds, optional
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup wild blueberries
To make the dough, mix the flours with a pinch of sea salt. Add the olive oil and work it in quickly with your fingertips, until crumbly. Add the water to the dry ingredients one spoon at a time just until the dough comes together. Split the dough in half and roll each into a ball. Flatten into discs, cover in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Add the olive oil to a pan on medium-low heat. Mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms about 3 mm thick. Add both to the pan and sautée for about 5 minutes. While they are sautéeing, add a pinch of sea salt and chili flakes. Chop the fresh parsley (leaves and stalks) finely, and add to the pan. Mix everything together and remove from the heat when the mushrooms are about to turn soft.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the grated cheese, hemp seeds, and spoon of flour. Add the cooled mushroom mixture to the eggs and mix well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Lightly grease a pie dish with olive oil. On a piece of parchment paper, flour a rolling pin and roll out the first piece of dough until it is about 5 cm wider than the dish. Pick up the paper with the dough on it, flip it over onto the pie dish, and then gently peel off the parchment. Press the dough into the dish to rid of any air bubbles. (If you prefer, you can parbake the crust for 15 minutes at this point, with baking weights or dried legumes.)
Using the same method as above, roll out the second piece of dough. Pour the filling into the bottom pie crust and scatter the blueberries on top. Using the same method again, invert the dough onto the filling and peel off the parchment. Seal the edges together and remove any excess. Brush the top of the pie with an egg wash or olive oil. Cut a small cross in the centre to release steam.
Turn the oven down to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is set. Allow to cool for about 1 hour before you cut into it if you want picture-perfect slices.
A savoury pie goes wonderfully with a fresh green salad, and is also great for work lunches or picnics. Enjoy!
*Since this dough is based on olive oil instead of butter, it is tricky to work with. The addition of a whole grain flour makes it more crumbly than usual. If you prefer, use only unbleached plain flour to obtain a dough that is easier to roll out.