Tarragon Pie (Tarkhunis ghvezeli)
Georgians love tarragon so much so that it flavors one of their favorite soft drinks, tarkhuna—whose taste is not soft at all. Add in the soda’s neon green color, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test comes to mind. But when tarkhunais made with good water and fresh herbs, the flavor is truly divine. This pie—intense and exciting—is similarly divine for those who love tarragon. It’s among the first things I make every June, when my tarragon patch bursts forth after its long winter rest.
I usually set aside about 1 cup of the filling for a better balance of herbs and pastry. The leftover filling is excellent when stirred into eggs for a scramble or omelet.- Darra Goldstein
This is an excerpt from The Georgian Feast (University of California Press, 2018)
Serving Size: Serves 8-10
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) cold butter, cut into bits
¼ cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
½ pound fresh tarragon
3 bunches (4 ounces) green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup sunflower oil
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground marigold
½ teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon cold water
To make the dough, mix together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl beat the eggs lightly and stir in the yogurt, then add this mixture to the flour and butter. Work the dough with a fork just until it holds together—don’t overmix. If the dough is too dry, add a little more yogurt. Divide the dough into two disks and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
While the dough is chilling, strip the tarragon leaves from the stalks and place in a large bowl. You’ll have about 10 cups of leaves. Chop the green onions, dill, and basil, not too finely, and mix them with the tarragon.
In a large, 14-inch skillet heat the oil. Stir-fry the mixed greens over medium heat until wilted, about 3 minutes. Inspect the mixture for any tough tarragon stalks you might have missed, and remove them. Stir in the coriander, marigold, salt, and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured board roll out one disk of the chilled dough to a 12-inch round and carefully transfer it the baking sheet. Top the dough with all but about 1 cup of the greens, then distribute the chopped hardboiled egg over them. Sprinkle with salt. Roll out the second disk of dough and lay it over the filling. Trim the edges, then crimp them and turn them under the pie to make a clean border.
Mix the beaten egg yolk with the ½ teaspoon cold water and brush over the top of the dough. Prick the pie gently in a few places to let steam escape. Bake the pie at 350º for 30 to 35 minutes, until nicely browned. This pie tastes best warm or gently reheated.
Note: To make the dough in a food processor, briefly pulse the flour with the salt to mix. Drop the butter into the bowl of the processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, being careful not to overmix. In a small bowl beat the eggs lightly and stir in the yogurt. Add this mixture to the bowl of the food processor and pulse again briefly to make a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, work in a little extra yogurt by hand. Divide the dough into two disks and proceed as directed above.
From The Georgian Feastby Darra Goldstein