When I was a little girl, I didn’t like raw tomatoes. I think probably because my first exposure to them was to unripened and tasteless ones from the grocery store. There are very few things I don’t like to eat, so I assume my experiences early on must have been bad ones. But then I grew up and graduated college (I managed to maintain my distaste consistently for most of my youth) and one day, someone gave me a fresh, off-the-vine, home-grown tomato and said I should give it a shot again. Being a curious person, I figured I should indulge the opportunity.
I fell in love then and have never looked back.
I still omit raw, tasteless tomatoes from sandwiches and such, but give me a home grown tomato in the summer and I might pledge my allegiance to you and your garden from thence forth. And when I can’t make friends with a neighborhood gardener or manage to get our own plants to produce fast enough, I just go to the farmers market and pick some up.
Yesterday I found some incredible heirloom tomatoes and bought the ugliest ones they had for a sale price of just $1/pound. No, I won’t tell you my source…because then you might beat me to them.
But I will tell you the best thing ever to do with them…aside from eating them plain, or in caprese salad, or making the yummiest BLT of all times.
Make tomato pie.
I didn’t grow up having tomato pie. MOM?! WHY?! But since I’ve spent the better part of my life now in South Carolina, it’s just something that I think any good Southerner should know how to do. And a few years ago my friend Vivian, a renowned Southern chef, shared her recipe with me, and now I have dreams about tomato pie during any season that I can’t get off-the-vine amazingness.
So of course, I made it today. Because…fresh tomatoes.
With Viv’s permission, I’m sharing her recipe with you today! And if you haven’t seen her awesome show on PBS, A Chef’s Life, HERE is a link to watch the episode where Viv makes tomato pie.
BEST EVER TOMATO PIE
- For the Filling
- 2 cups diced and drained fresh tomatoes
- 2 cups diced and roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup caramelized onions
- 1/2 cup picked basil
For the Topping
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/3 cup grated Fontina
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 basic pie crust (I use Pillsbury frozen pie crust) – pre-bake according to instructions
For the diced and drained fresh tomatoes: Seed and dice about 3 cups fresh, high-quality tomatoes.(I cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds.) Toss them with a little kosher salt and sugar. Put in a colander while you prepare the remaining ingredients if possible. Drain for a minimum of an hour. You should be left with about 2 cups of tomatoes.
For the roasted tomatoes: Seed and dice 4 cups fresh, high quality tomatoes. Toss them with olive oil, plenty of kosher salt, and several sprigs of thyme. Spread this mix out on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You want the tomatoes to be dry and slightly caramelized, but not burned around the edges.
For the Onions: Peel and slice 4 medium yellow onions. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup butter. Add the onions and season them with salt. Let the onions simmer and become juicy. Once the situation becomes a bit drier and much of the onion liquid has cooked out, turn down the heat, to its lowest setting and settle in for a long, slow caramelize. You are looking for a medium brown, sweet caramelization.
To Assemble the Filling: Combine the onions, fresh tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Keep in mind, tomatoes take a lot of seasoning to really make them shine in applications like this.
To Bake and Serve : Spread the filling over the bottom of a pre-baked crust. Spoon topping and press down to create a 1/3 inch thick round of delicious, cheesy topping that spreads nearly to the edges of the pie. Bake at 375 degrees until the top is nicely browned…20-25 minutes. Serve at just over room temperature. Makes roughly one 12-inch pie or tart.