Tomato Pie

This is not the “tomato pie” you know in the northeast.  It’s not some pizza derivation.  This is a southern-style summertime staple.  For the past month I’ve been experimenting with tomato pie recipes.  It all started with my friend’s recipe, which she “wasn’t permitted” to share.  Apparently it’s a family tradition that she wasn’t willing to break.  Note that I still haven’t actually tried her recipe, but the idea of a recipe worth keeping secret fired me up enough to make one of these babies every weekend in July.

I’m still experimenting with the cheese and flavor combinations, but I couldn’t withhold it from this blog any longer.  It’s the PERFECT use for super ripe summer tomatoes.  When I first moved here, I was floored by the quality of local Grainger County tomatoes.  And now I have them overflowing from my CSA box and my own garden.  This is a wonderful use for tomatoes of any size, shape, or color.  And since you drain them, and bake them down, I would speculate that you can even make it delicious with sub-par winter tomatoes.

This is a family style dish in the south, popular at cookouts and potlucks since it’s best served at room temperature.  There are many variations with two crusts, or a heck of a lot more cheese, but I think I’ve settled on the formula I like best.  If anyone is interested in making this, I would urge you to experiment with different combinations of cheeses or other add-ins (some gruyere would kick ass).  And if you’re a better homemaker than I, you could make your own crust and it would be a knockout.

Whatever you do, just try it.  If you love tomatoes, you will love this savory pie.

Summer Tomato Pie (makes 6 servings)

Basically adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 1 unbaked pie crust (preferably Pillsbury refrigerated roll)
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, or any combination of smaller ones
  • 4 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese (a generous 1 cup, grated)
  • 4 tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed, chopped basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbs. dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 350° and par-bake the pie crust.  I roll mine into a glass pie plate, poke small holes all over with a fork, cover the top and sides with a piece of foil, and weigh it down with metal spoons  (or pie weights if you have them).  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is firm.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove the slices to a paper towel to drain, then crumble them up.  Pour off all but one tablespoon of the fat and cook the onion until soft and just turning brown (stirring frequently, about 10 minutes).  When the onions are done, remove them to a bowl and cool.

Cut the tomatoes across the equator and poke the insides to remove the seeds and their juice.  Discard the juice and seeds, or save for another use.  Rough chop the tomatoes into about 1 inch pieces.  Put the copped tomatoes into a colander and squeeze the remaining juice.  You could also wrap them in cheesecloth and really wring them out.  (I know it seems like a waste, but the more juice you get out, the less soupy your pie will be.)  Mix the drained tomatoes in a large bowl with the basil, cooked onions, and crumbled bacon.  Add a good amount of salt and pepper to taste.

Make the topping.  Mix the cheese, mayo, hot sauce, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Brush the partially cooled crust with the egg white, then spread the bottom with the dijon mustard.  Next, dump the chopped tomato mixture into the crust, and even it to a flat surface on top.  Drop the topping by spoonful on top of the tomatoes.  Spread it around with your fingers to create an even layer.

Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the topping is turning golden brown.  Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it.

NOTE: if you cut into this pie when it is still warm, it WILL fall apart.  The way I see it, this is completely unavoidable.  Don’t worry though, it will taste freakin’ good anyway.  The picture at the top of this post was taken the next day, after the pie was refrigerated overnight.  This works well served warm, room temp, or cold from the fridge.

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