The Sub: Olive Oil for Butter in Pie Crust

By Aurelia d'Andrea September 20, 2013 Categories: The Sub


Late last summer, my friend Terresa Murphy—who just happens to run La Cucina di Terresa, a popular vegetarian cooking school in Paris—invited me over for an evening of dinner and conversation. It was a memorable get-together, as is every food-filled soirée at Terresa’s;I never know what culinary magic she’ll cast, but I always know that whatever she prepares will explode with flavor and feature the freshest fruits and vegetables of the season.  

On that particular balmy night, the meal centered on green tomatoes, thickly sliced and tucked inside a homemade pie crust, sprinkled with herbs, and baked in the oven until the crust was golden and the tomatoes were perfectly soft and juicy. Tucking into my first forkful, I thought I’d died and gone to epicurean heaven. This rustic-looking tart boasted such a rich, buttery flavor (sans butter) and a perfect crispness that before I knew it, I was not only asking for seconds, but begging for the recipe.

Terresa is a sharer, thank goodness. She’s also a minimalist who relies on high-quality, organic ingredients to give her simple recipes—like this one—their deliciously sophisticated yet earthy flavors.  

This pie crust can be used for both sweet and savory tarts; try layering thin slices of vine-ripened tomatoes with zucchini and onion, then adding a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of sea salt before sliding in the oven. Fresh berries or stone fruits like plums, peaches, or apricots would make an equally scrumptious sweet filling.

Terresa’s Olive Oil Pie Crust
Makes one 9-inch crust

1 1/2 cups flour (can use up to ¾ cup whole-wheat flour)
3 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
Unrefined sea salt

1. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl.Add olive oil, and using your hands, rub flour and oil together until mixture turns crumbly. Make a well in the middle, and add 1/4 cup water. Continue mixing with your hands or a fork until dough beings to clump. Add water as needed, until dough forms a tight ball. Refrigerator dough 1 to 2 hours.

2. When dough has chilled, use the heel of your hand to lightly knead and flatten the ball, then use a rolling pin to roll out into a 9-inch circle. Add extra flour as needed to keep it from sticking to work surface.

3. Place inside a pie pan, and add filling of choice. Bake 30 minutes, and allow to cool before serving.

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This worked really well for me too! I too added a little more water and more oil until it wasn't crumbling but wasn't too sticky, about 4 1/2 tbs. I also added sugar instead of salt, probably about a tablespoon. I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and let it rest in the freeze for about two hours and didn't even have to flour the surface one while rolling it out. As for baking the crust, the recipe I was using called for the filling to be baked for fifty minutes at 350. Instead of doing that, I baked it (crust and filling) for 40 minutes on 320 and then an extra 10 at 350. The crust came out great! Perfect golden brown and no burnt bits!

Shelly - 2015-07-24 01:03:19

This worked nicely for me - I used a little bit extra oil but not much, and rolled it pretty thin, and it wasn't too crunchy at all, just right. I also only refrigerated it for about 20 mins, and it was fine. It made enough for one small pie, or a very large pasty which is what I ended up making, haha. Thanks for the recipe - I'll be making this again.

Cat - 2015-07-14 03:02:42

I came up with an olive oil pie crust back in the late 90s for my book "Vegan Vegetarian Cooking." It's one of the sample recipes on, for those who'd like to try that one, too.

Pam - 2014-04-23 02:03:08

Turned out waaaaaay too crunchy. To anyone making pie: if you want a stale pie crust this recipe is for you. You can make pie crust with olive oil but it needs a hell of a lot more than 3 1/2 tbs.

Mf - 2013-10-27 22:21:54

This sounds amazing. With all the end of summer / early fall tomatoes coming to a peak, I'm definitely cooking this recipe soon. I wonder how coconut oil would do in place of olive oil in the pie crust. It's a great high-heat oil, and its fatty acids are a preferred energy source for mitochondrial ATP production. :D

Miachel (Spiced Curiosity) - 2013-09-24 16:38:31