Strawberry-Banana Cream Pie

Serves 8.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. “OK, local strawberry season is nowhere in sight, but there’s never a local banana season, and that doesn’t stop us from eating bananas all year long,” wrote Al Sicherman in the March 9, 2000, edition of Taste. “So why not strawberry-banana cream pie in March?” Don’t like strawberries? Use 2 cups blueberries instead.

• 1 prepared 9-inch pie crust

• 12 to 15 small or medium strawberries

• 2 egg yolks

• 2/3 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. cornstarch

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1 3/4 c. milk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tbsp. butter

• 2 ripe bananas

• Freshly whipped cream for garnish, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Fit the pastry into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are light golden, checking occasionally and poking a fork into any large bubbles. Remove from oven and transfer pie pan to a wire rack.

Wash and hull the strawberries, then cut the small ones vertically into halves and the larger ones into thirds, and set them cut-side down onto paper towels to dry.

In a small bowl, slightly beat the egg yolks, and reserve.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add a little milk and stir well to produce a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the mixture begins to thicken on the bottom of the pan, begin stirring constantly, scraping the entire pan bottom continuously. When it turns slightly translucent and becomes like thick sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately stir until the mixture is well combined. Pour these tempered egg yolks back into the pan containing the rest of the hot milk mixture, and stir immediately until the mixture is smooth and uniform.

Return the pan to the stove and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to mound slightly — until it looks more like pudding than sauce. If it is not cooked sufficiently at this stage, it will be runny even after it is chilled. If you’re not sure, cook it more, not less.

Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and butter and stir until the butter is melted and all is well mixed. Slice the bananas thinly into the mixture and stir in all but eight nicely shaped strawberry pieces. Pour mixture into the prepared pie shell and arrange the reserved strawberry pieces in a circle near the center.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, decorate the pie’s edge with whipped cream, optional.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 260

Fat 9 g

Sodium 275 mg

Carbohydrates 42 g

Saturated fat 4 g

Total sugars 24 mg

Protein 4 g

Cholesterol 50 mg

Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ fruit, 2 ½ carb, ½ medium-fat protein, 1 ½ fat.