Juicy, summery, sweet stone fruit combines with a kick of ginger and garden herbs in this whole-grain, gluten-free nectarine pie.
The Recipe: Nectarine Pie with Lavender, Thyme & Tarragon
Summery sweet nectarines get a kick from dried ginger and seasonal herbs for a unique twist on a nectarine pie. A sprinkling of muddled thyme, tarragon, lavender, and sugar adds a thematic finish to the lavender-inspired top crust design. If you don’t feel as artistically inclined, you can use a cookie-cutter to create a top crust pattern.
Don’t let the long recipe fool you. Making this nectarine pie isn’t hard, but it does require a lot of downtimes and careful planning. I like to start my crust in the mornings typically and alternate with other work if possible.
The Grains: Gluten-Free Whole Grains
This nectarine pie features whole-grain, gluten-free oat, and millet flours for a flaky, flavorful crust that will appease even traditional pie lovers.
The Personal: A Garden Inspired Nectarine Pie for Chris
There’s a hospital corner not far from my kitchen that now boasts herbs and edibles. My friend Chris nurtured both the seed of the idea and the actual seedlings that would find their way to its soil. The garden’s significance exceeds its humble corner lot. (Note: You can learn more about the garden in this Grow Pittsburgh spotlight.)
It’s a start, a hope that patients and those in need will learn more about how food grows, how it nourishes, and how the act of tending the land can ease stress and anxiety. The garden’s significance exceeds its corner lot because it represents Chris’s dedication while simultaneously setting healthy boundaries to protect his own energy.
As his caring friends, we had our concerns that he might give too much, dedicate too much time, and not be valued in the way he deserved. My concerns clouded my vision, and I nearly missed the weight of the achievement. I decided to pause, to give Chris the accolades he deserved, and lately, my celebrations and sentiments come in the form of pie.
This nectarine pie was inspired by the fruits of Chris’s personal garden that he maintains with his partner Josh (also a recent pie recipient). They often bring me bundles of flowers and mason jars of herbs, and I am anxiously awaiting the abundance of tomatoes about to spill from their vines into my kitchen.
The pie filling was a combination of summer-sweet nectarines mixed with lavender, thyme, and tarragon. The crust was a lavender-sugar sprinkled ode to a bundle Chris had gifted me a week prior. Baked to a golden hue, the pie was my way of saying you deserve a moment to savor this accomplishment because we are all proud of you.
I’ve never met someone with such childlike wonder for the natural world and encyclopedic knowledge of everything it contains. Walking with you in the woods is unlike any other hiking experience. Your devotion to making the world a greener and healthier place constantly inspires me, and I’m grateful for the tokens of your greening that I get to experience.
I’m proud of you for forging this garden project, for protecting your energy while sharing your gifts. I’m proud of you for opening your heart to me, and I’m grateful to have a supportive sounding board in you.
The Drink: A Natural Wine Pairing
In keeping with our celebration of gardens and sustainability, I paired the nectarine pie with this Natura rosé made with organic grapes. I’m also a sucker for a pretty wine label.
The Mint ‘n Maple Corner:
One of my kitchen assistants was a little overzealous and thought she needed to help prematurely with clean up…
You Might Also Like: Frozen Peach Pie Bars with a Graham Cracker Crust
This recipe from my book, The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook, is an ode to one of my mom’s classic desserts. It’s a gluten-free, whole-grain graham cracker crust (which you can also use to make graham crackers for your summer s’mores needs) with a frozen, whipped cream and peach topping. It’s a lightly sweet refresher on a hot summer day.
Gluten-Free Nectarine Pie with Lavender, Thyme & Tarragon
*Pie Crust for Cutout Pies & Pawdowdies (see note)
- 3/4 cup (110 g) sweet rice flour
- ½ cup (55 g) GF oat flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp (50 g) millet flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp (45 g) cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp (25 g) tapioca flour
- 4 Tbsp 25 g finely ground chia seed
- ¾ tsp fine sea salt
- 12 Tbsp (170 g) cold, unsalted butter, sliced ¼-inch thick
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp (90 mL) ice water
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp (90 mL) well-shaken buttermilk
Nectarine Pie Filling:
- 6-7 medium nectarines
- Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp dried ginger
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- 2-3 sprigs lavender, stemmed & coarsely chopped
- 2-3 sprigs thyme, stemmed & coarsely chopped
- 2-3 sprigs tarragon, stemmed & coarsely chopped
- 2-3 Tbsps organic granulated cane sugar
- 1 sprig fresh lavender, stemmed
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, stemmed
- 1 sprig fresh tarragon, stemmed
- Buttermilk, milk, nut milk or water, for brushing
To Make the Dough:
- In a large bowl, combine the rice, oat, and millet flours with the cornstarch, tapioca flour, ground chia seed, and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the top, and work in with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles gravel, with lots of butter chunks the size of large peas.
- Stir together the ice water and buttermilk, and drizzle the mixture into the flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough with a rubber spatula to moisten evenly. Add just enough liquid for the dough to hold together when you give it a squeeze, and add it directly to the dry floury bits that like to hang out on the bottom of the bowl; you may need all of the liquid.
For A Quicker Dough Assembly:
- Knead the dough in the bowl 10-20 times to bring it together.
The Fraisage Method For Flaky Crust:
- Dump the dough out onto the counter and fraisage by dragging portions of the dough across the counter with the heel of your hand (this makes for a flakier dough). Either way, gather the dough up into a ball (a metal bench scraper helps if using the fraisage method). Divide the dough into ⅓ and ⅔ portions, and wrap each portion loosely in plastic wrap or beeswax, and flatten it into a disk. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
For An Extra Flaky Crust:
- On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of chilled dough into a rough square that is about 1/4" thick. Fold it in thirds like you're folding a letter, then roll up from a skinny end into a loose spiral. Gently press to flatten it slightly. Repeat with the second portion of dough, and chill both for 30 minutes.
- Repeat the above step once more.
For the Filling:
- Halve the nectarines, remove the pits, then cut each half into wedges, then halve the wedges. Place the nectarines in a large bowl, and add the lemon zest, juice, sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger and fresh herbs. Toss gently to combine, and set aside for a few minutes to draw out the juices.
To Assemble the Pie:
- Remove the larger portion of dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 12" circle, dusting the dough lightly with oat flour as needed, rotating and flipping it to prevent it from sticking. Ease the dough into a 9" glass pie plate, fit it into the corners, and trim the overhang. (Save the scraps to fold into the top layer of dough.) Crimp the overhang of the crust with the tines of a fork.
- Spoon the fruit and juices into the chilled crust, smoothing it flat. Chill the crust and fruit filling while working with the second portion of dough.
- On a surface dusted lightly with oat flour, roll out the smaller piece of dough to a 9-inch (23-cm) round about 1⁄4-inch (6-mm) thick. Use a fluted cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (or small glass) to cut out shapes measuring about 2-inches in diameter, or use a small paring knife to create a free-form design like mine. Remove the pie base from the fridge, and place the pie crust shapes over the surface. Brush the overlapping crusts with buttermilk or water to help them adhere. Chill the entire pie in the freezer for about 20 minutes, until the top crust is fairly solid.
- While the pie chills, muddle the granulated cane sugar and fresh herbs until the herbs are broken down more crumb-like. Set aside.
To Finish & Bake the Pie:
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, top with a baking stone if you’ve got one, and preheat to 425ºF (220ºC). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- Brush the decorative top pie crust with the liquid of your choice, and sprinkle with the muddled sugar.
- Place the pie on the lined baking sheet and slide into the oven on the baking stone. Bake at 425ºF (220ºC) for 15 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling thickly, 35–50 more minutes.
- Note on Baking: Err on the side of overbaking lest you wind up with a soupy filling that doesn't set.
- Let the pie cool completely and the fruit to set, at least 2 hours.
- Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream.
- The pie is best shortly after baking but will keep at room temperature for up to 1 day, or refrigerated for several days.