Here we are, coming up on Labor Day. Originally instituted to celebrate the contributions of working people, Labor Day has long been recognized as the end of summer. Here in the Carolinas, it's often celebrated with a weekend at the beach. Which got me thinking about appropriate desserts: something celebratory, something beach-y ... something that doesn't involve much labor. What better way to enjoy the weekend than by making something really easy, something that spends very little time in the oven - but something your family will remember and request again and again?
Here then, is Atlantic Beach Pie. Something like Lemon Meringue Pie, but easier. Something like Key Lime Pie, but different. I was intrigued by the crust, for which the main ingredient is saltine crackers. Could the humble saltine make a good pie crust? Surprisingly, the answer to this question is a resounding Yes! Somehow, crackers in pie make me think of Mock Apple Pie, where Ritz crackers are the "mock apples" - not appealing! But if you can make pie crust from graham crackers, or crushed cookies, why not saltines? Turns out the light salty flavor of saltines is wonderful in this pie. The crust is salty-sweet, the filling is a bright citrus, and a pile of whipped cream crowns it all.
So make this pie, and pour yourself a cold drink to enjoy in the shade. Happy Labor-less Day.
This is a gluten-free pie. If you do not want a gluten-free pie, you can substitute regular saltine crackers instead of the gluten-free ones.
Gluten-free saltines are not easy to find. I used Schar's Gluten-Free Table Crackers. They were not very salty, so I added a little salt. If your crackers are saltier than these, you may want to cut back on the added salt. The crust should taste salty and sweet, all at the same time.
As noted in the recipe, you want somewhere between 3/4 C and 1 C of cracker crumbs. (More crumbs will make a slightly thicker crust.) The crackers I used were extremely light, but if you use a different brand, the weight may vary.
I first came across a recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie in The New York Times. They said they got the recipe from Bill Smith, who was the chef at Crook's Corner here in North Carolina. Bill said he was re-creating pies he remembered from beach vacations in his childhood. Everything old is new again?