A couple of weeks ago I bought a case of tomatoes that weren’t quite pretty enough to sell full price. I had tomato plans, and for the next week and a half I had tomatoes for breakfast (love them with eggs), lunch (mayo, cheap white bread) and dinner (salad, soup, pie). I almost, not quite, but almost grew weary of tomatoes; but then I’d rally and make something different.
Here’s the list of my adventures with tomatoes: tomato juice; gazpacho (cold vegetable and tomato soup); sandwiches with herb mayonnaise (every other day I’d use regular mayo); salad with bulgur, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta; and the Southern specialty of tomato pie.
I didn’t grow up eating this savory pie. Never heard of it until I read a recipe in my mother’s Colonial Dames newsletter, and I immediately made it for a family supper. I’ve been fascinated by variations on it ever since.
The one I made last week was very basic, but it gave me a chance to make a homemade piecrust, which I give a grade of B- to. I need to practice the crust more. I drained the tomatoes (crucial) and topped it with a very basic cheese mixture of sharp cheddar, mayonnaise, scallions, salt and pepper. Terry and I both loved it and had a delicious supper with a slice of pie and an ear of corn.
I am partial to the piecrust version, but there are other ways to have a base for the tomatoes such as using cheese straw dough in mini muffin tins, with chopped tomatoes and a sprinkling of cheese, or puff pastry with goat cheese and tomatoes and fresh herbs.
I am not going to educate you on making piecrust at home as I am at the bottom of that class. I will tell you that most of the traditional pies are bottom crust only and use savory dough. However, I did find one recipe from “Lee Bailey’s Tomatoes” that uses biscuit dough for the crust and has a bottom and top crust, which goes over the cheese and mayonnaise mixture. If you make your own, feel free to jazz it up with herbs, cheddar, Parmesan cheese or chopped bacon.
HAM TOMATO PIE
Pastry for 9-inch pie crust (or store-bought crust)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
For the filling:
2 cups coarsely ground ham
5 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 tomatoes, thickly sliced (may need more)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons crushed crackers
1/2 teaspoon basil
LEE BAILEY’S SAVORY TOMATO PIE
Pastry for 9-inch piecrust (or store-bought crust)
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2/3 cup milk
For the filling:
3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced thick
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2/3 cup mayonnaise
Serve warm. (The pie may be reheated.)
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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