Thursday, September 25, 2014
Tomato Pie - A Delicious Recipe for Late Summer
Every year at the end of the summer, I pick (if my tomatoes are still producing) or purchase about 3 pounds of little cherry or gold or red or green tomatoes and make this recipe. I originally saw it demo-ed on Martha Stewart Living TV (remember that?) by Martha and Oprah. (I found that Martha and Opray segment here if you want to watch.) My printed black and white copy dates from October 2000 and somehow has survived my kitchen cyclone. Those were ancient days when Julia was really small and I was tearing my hair out. My big escape back then was to watch Martha make something - whatever it was I was happy to have some adult conversation in my head, vs the toddler conversations in my house. Boy - the choices crazed mothers have now are overwhelming, aren't they?
The first time I made this tomato pie was for lunch when my Mom and Dad came to visit while passing through to somewhere. I always loved to cook for my Dad because he was so appreciative of anything I put in front of him. The three of us sat around this old wooden table with Julia in her high chair and we feasted on Tomato Pie and Salad. We decided then that the recipe was a keeper. I think of Daddy every time I make it.
I usually make Tomato Pie for dinner once or twice at the end of the summer. If I have a glut of larger tomatoes, I cut the larger ones into smaller chunks and mix them with the small cherry tomatoes that Martha recommended. I actually prefer mixing the different sizes and I think it makes it taste better because the cut tomatoes ooze and add a nice saucy note to the pie.
I use a really deep pie dish and use about 3 pounds of tomatoes. If you use a shallow dish, just make sure you overfill the pie dish because the tomatoes shrink down. If you prefer a cast iron pan, I think it would work beautifully for this pie.
Martha used gruyere cheese but I have used all kinds because I sometimes can't find gruyere. I have used grated swiss cheese and parmesan successfully. The idea is to have that cheesy flavor in the crust.
If you aren't much for making pie crusts, I think a great substitute would be puff pastry dough. To get the cheesy flavor - which is seriously nice - sprinkle some parmesan on top of the egg coated crust towards the end of baking.
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup grated cheese (grated gruyere, swiss, or parmesan)
(1 1/2 ounces in case you are shopping by weight)
1/2 cup cold butter - cut into pieces
1/8 cup or more ice water
1 egg - for brushing the top of the crust
1. In a food processor, place flour, salt and cheese. Process just to blend ingredients together. Add the chunks of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
2. With the machine running, using the center feed tube, dribble the water in. You may not need it all. Watch the dough and just as it starts to come together, stop the processor. Open and squish it together and see if it holds together. Add a little more water if it isn't holding together but not too much. You don't want it gummy.
3. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on your counter and empty the dough from the processor onto it. Form it into a flat disk, using the plastic wrap as your tool. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
For the tomato filling:
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 large onion - diced
3 large cloves garlic - minced
2 to 3 pounds mixed tomatoes - cherry and heirlooms are nice
a handful each of parsley and basil - chopped into ribbons
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup flour for thickening
4. Preheat oven to 375.
5. Saute the onion and garlic in a pan over low heat, taking care not to burn the garlic. The onion should be translucent when finished. Let cool slightly if you have the time.
6. Cut up any large tomatoes into pieces similar in size to the cherry tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and mix in the cooked onions and garlic. Add the sugar, the parsley and basil, and the flour. Mix it all around with your hands.
7. Fill your pie or cast iron pan with the tomato mixture.
8. Flour a surface and roll out the pie dough to form a circlish shape that is a little larger than you pie dish. I'm not too fussy about this because this dough seems to look good no matter how messy you are (and I am plenty messy). It will be thickish which adds more flavor. Place it on top of your tomatoes and tuck in the sides or form a thick rolled edging if you are feeling decorative. Cut four 1 1/2" slit in the top of the crust.
9. Using the egg from the crust directions, beat it with a fork. Using a brush, paint the top of the crust. This will give it a lovely yellowy gold color.
9. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the juices bubble out of the slits. Let it cool a bit so the tomatoes don't burn your mouth and so it is easier to cut and serve.
I hope you get a chance to try this with this year's tomatoes, wherever you live! Enjoy!