Nothing like tomato pie in summer

Published 10:37 pm Saturday, June 11, 2016

The late food writer John Egerton once described tomatoes as the “sun-ripened sirens of summer.”

0611 tomato pie II_1I do love tomatoes and have often told that we have a tomato-basil salad two or more times a week in the summer.

Tomatoes are growing like crazy this time of year and have been appearing at the farmer’s market for several weeks. So seeing them I always have the idea of a new way to prepare tomato pie. A traditional tomato pie is prepared by layering vine-ripened tomatoes with a mayonnaise and cheese mixture in a pre-baked pie shell. Fresh herbs, typically basil, brighten each layer and cut through the rich filling. Pile the pie with tomatoes of your choosing. Red tomatoes have a higher acidity, while yellow tomatoes have more sugar. Pink are a blend of acid and sweet, and purple are sweet with an earthy flavor. Green tomatoes are frim and sour.

A few tips: For easy peeling, blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, then plunge into an ice bath. This helps the skins peel off in a flash. After slicing, drain tomatoes on a wire rack lined with paper towels, so even the juiciest of Cherokee Purples won’t leave your pie crust soggy. To elevate the presentation, opt for a tart-style dish. Consider also adding pancetta, smoked Gruyère or goat cheese. And take your pick of fresh herbs—basil, chives, rosemary, and thyme are all good choices.

I have done many tomato pie recipes and started doing them while living in Andalusia many years ago. This recipe from ‘Palate’ June/July 2016 issue seems somewhat different but was very good. It was so good my husband ate one half of the pie for lunch!

Tomato Pie

4-5 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

½ cup chopped onions, sautéed

2 teaspoons granulated garlic, sautéed with onions

3 eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Score and Core: Remove tomatoes cores with a sharp paring knife. On opposite end, score and “X” in tomato skin.

2. Take the Plunge: Using a slotted spoon, plunge the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 20-30 seconds; until skins are just loosened. Transfer blanched tomatoes to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

3. Peel Out: Once tomatoes are cool, peel them by sliding a paring knife under the skin and lifting, starting at the “X.” Be careful not to cut tomato flesh. After peeling, slice tomatoes into ¼-iinch slices.

4. High and Dry: Places tomato slices onto wire rack lined with paper towels, sprinkle with salt and let drain for 30 minutes. This technique removes excess liquid while keeping tomatoes flavorful.

5. Fill’er Up: To make filling: fold together all ingredients except for tomatoes, and spoon into a pre-baked pie crust or tart shell.

6. Make your Arrangements: Arrange tomatoes on top, and bake in a 350-degree oven until filling has set, approximately 20 minutes. (I found it took about 10 minutes longer). Remove from oven and garnish with herbs.

This makes a beautiful tomato pie and great for summer entertaining.