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Olive Oil and Pastry Crust

By Michelle Powell-Smith

Pastry crusts for pies, quiches and tarts usually rely on unhealthy, saturated fats like butter, shortening or lard. You can opt for a healthier pastry crust by replacing the solid fat with olive oil, while still preserving the light, flaky texture associated with a well-made pastry crust. Simple adjustments make an olive oil crust appropriate for sweet or savory dishes.

Ingredients for a Basic Crust

A basic olive oil crust requires only a few ingredients. You need all-purpose white flour, whole-wheat pastry flour or a mixture of whole-wheat and all-purpose. White flour produces a softer, flakier crust, but wheat flour lends this recipe a pleasant nutty flavor. This simple crust works for pies, rustic fruit tarts and savory dishes.

Making the Crust

Make the crust by hand with nothing more than a wooden spoon and a mixing bowl, or use a food processor. Measure 2 cups of flour and 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. salt into a mixing bowl or the working bowl of your food processor. Mix in 1/4 cup olive oil and up to 1/2 cup water a little at a time. Knead until the mixture forms a lump.

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Rolling and Baking

Roll the crust out quickly and evenly on a floured surface, or stretch it gently by hand. Add flour as necessary to keep the crust from sticking to the surface. Place it into your pie or tart pan, then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. Prick the crust with a fork, and bake it empty for 20 to 25 minutes. Or leave it unpricked, fill it, and bake it in a preheated oven at the temperature and for the time specified in your recipe.

Variations

While a basic crust recipe works for both sweet and savory dishes, simple changes may make this more appealing. Opt for a strongly flavored extra virgin olive oil for savory dishes and a milder one for sweet dishes. Use a larger amount of salt for a savory tart, and add a teaspoon of sugar to a sweet crust. Or add up to a tablespoon of fresh or dried herbs to your crust. Try pairing rosemary with a chard tart or mint with a fruit tart.

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