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Baby, It's Blueberry Season

Baby, It’s Blueberry Season

One of the many things I love about summer, besides basil, the beach, Italy, hot sultry days, cold crisp salads, lush fruit, staying outside until long after dark…is blueberries. I totally love summer and blueberries rule my kitchen when they are in season.

 

Blueberries belong to the heath family, which includes more than 150 varieties, most of which are not edible. Native to North America and cultivated both here and in Canada, the blueberry is rare in Europe. The fruit of a wild plant, the blueberry grows best in mountainous regions, in the woods and in peaty soil. Native Americans used dried blueberries to season pemmican, a mixture of dried meat and fat.

 

There are about 30 varieties of blueberry plants, with most of them producing berries the size of peas.  The flesh of the blueberry is lush and sweet, holding tiny seeds inside. 

 

Blueberries are extremely fragile and should be stored in the refrigerator unwashed for a longer life. Look for uniformly blue, plump, firm, sweet smelling berries. Remove any damaged berries before storing to prevent the spread of mold throughout the container. 

 

Delicious fresh…or cooked (pies are my favorite)…blueberries are rich sources of vitamin C, potassium, sodium and fiber. They also contain anthocyanides, compounds that could explain their effectiveness in treating urinary tract infections. Rich in tannins, blueberries are also said to be great for our cardiovascular health and aging gracefully.

 

And to serve them? Only your imagination limits you…fresh out of the package, in pies and tarts, muffins, pancakes, waffles, in compotes, jams, jellies, ice cream and sorbet, salads and dressings, enjoy blueberries all summer long.

 

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Summer’s yummy berries deserve only the best showcase.  With a flaky crust and a luscious crunchy topping, the jewels of hot weather really shine.

 

Makes 1 pie, 8-10 servings

 

Crust

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup semolina flour

pinch sea salt

pinch ground cinnamon

8 tablespoons vegan butter substitute or avocado oil

spring or filtered water

 

filling

6 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons avocado oil

pinch sea salt

½ cup brown rice syrup

grated zest of 1 fresh lemon

3 tablespoons arrowroot

 

topping

1 cup rolled oats

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

pinch sea salt

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup slivered almonds

¾ cup brown rice syrup

½ cup avocado oil

 

Preheat oven to 375o and lightly oil a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.

 

Make the crust by combining the flour, semolina, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Cut in oil, creating the texture of wet sand. Slowly add water, mixing until the dough just gathers together. Knead 2-3 times just to gather it into a ball. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment, creating a thin round that is about an inch larger than the pie plate. Remove the top sheet of parchment and invert crust onto pie plate. Without stretching, fit the crust into the plate, allowing excess crust to hang over the sides of the dish. Pierce in several places with a fork and bake for 5-7 minutes, to prevent the crust from becoming soggy. Set aside to cool.

 

Prepare the filling by combining all the ingredients except arrowroot in a saucepan over low heat.  Stirring frequently, cook until berries begin to soften, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in arrowroot. Spoon filling evenly into the partially baked shell. 

 

Prepare the topping by combining oats, flour, salt, cinnamon and almonds in a mixing bowl. Stir in rice syrup and oil to create a crumbly texture. Using your hands, crumble topping over the berry filling, covering completely. 

 

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350o and remove foil. Continue baking until filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.  

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