In the grand Southern tradition of using what is fresh from the garden and mixing it with some form of fat…I present to you: Tomato Pie. Okay, to be truly “southern” you’ll have to work on the pronunciation of “pie” (draw it waaaaaaaay out) but we won’t get hung up on that. If you aren’t familiar with Southern cooking, tomato pie might sound like some sort of strange dessert. Sure, technically tomatoes are fruits, and they are sometimes used in desserts, but this is more like a quiche, except without the eggs.
Earlier this summer Jason, a regular guest of mine, emailed me about a tomato pie recipe he was making, and the troubles he had with his crust. He emailed me the recipe for troubleshooting. Thanks to the cream cheese dough we had made in one of his recent classes, he solved the problem on his own by simply swapping out the traditional pie crust for the cream cheese dough. If you want a lower fat version, swap out the cream cheese dough for a standard pie crust. If you don’t feel confident in making pastry dough you have a few choices: 1) Do as Jason did and join me for my “Tantalizing Tarts” class, 2) Use a purchased pie crust from the refrigerator or freezer section of your store, OR 3) as another guest said that she used to do….buy the ingredients and ask a friend who’s confident to make a bunch of the dough for you and stash them in your own freezer!
Well, I finally got around to testing the recipe and used the cream cheese dough as he recommended. My taste testers all approved!
I think I might make try one change to the recipe (mainly out of curiosity) and that would be to first saute and caramelize the onions before placing them in the crust. The original recipe uses them in raw form which helps them provide some textural contrast to the rest of the pie through the slight crunch that they still retain.
The saltine cracker crumbs are used to absorb excess moisture from the tomatoes. Note that it is important after slicing the tomatoes, to season them and lay out on paper towels to “degorge” or draw out excessive moisture before putting them in the crust.
Serve this warm with a bowl of crab stew for a perfect Southern summer lunch or light supper.
Yield: 8 servings (1 9-inch pie)
1/2 batch of Cream Cheese Pastry
10 Roma (plum-style) tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, cut into julienne (thin strips)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (white or yellow)
1/2 cup saltine cracker crumbs
Prepare and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice tomatoes cross-wise in 1/4-inch thick slices and poke out the seeds. Place tomato slices on paper towels in a single layer. Season with salt and black pepper.
Combine mayonnaise, mozzarella, cheddar, oregano, a light sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix to blend evenly. Consistency should be thick but spreadable (adjust with mozzarella or mayonnaise as necessary).
Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Line pie plate with dough and trim and crimp the edges as desired. Scatter saltine cracker crumbs evenly across the bottom of the crust. Scatter sliced onions over the top of the cracker crumbs. Layer the sliced tomatoes over the top of the onions and season by sprinkling with the finely chopped fresh basil. Spread the cheese mixture over the top of the tomato slices. Bake for 25-30 minute or until top is golden and crust is done.
Let sit and cool for about 10 minutes before serving.