Anyhow my Aunt Ruth who lives in Louisville, Kentucky commented on the post about a tomato pie that she claims is a “Southern thing.” Growing up on the West Coast, I can honestly say that I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing–we do sweet pies where I am from but a savory tomato pie? Well, that’s something I had to try.
So, she sent me the recipe. The recipe is great. Not only does the dish sound incredibly tasty but it also has a lot of variations (and/or possible substitutions) which means that you can make it with you have on hand.
My aunt explained in her email: The long-time food editor at the C-J (that’s the local newspaper the Louisville Courier-Journal) used to print it from time to time. She has been gone for years, but people apparently lose their recipe and write in for a reprint occasionally.
Rather than a reprint, here’s my remake of the recipe in Bulgaria. Fair warning, even if you think that your west facing apartment is already so hot that it can’t get much hotter by turning on the oven–you’re fooling yourself. This said, the pie goes great with a glass of crisp white wine and I can only imagine it would go down equally well with a cold beer.
The most important thing to do before you get started making the pie is to figure out what kind of a pan you’re going to cook it in. I didn’t have a pie plate (and cursed myself for this) but I realized that I did have a spring-form pan. Not perfect but better than nothing. So I cut the crust recipe in half and at the end topped my pie with breadcrumbs.
Heavenly Tomato Pie
Ingredients for the Crust (below is the full recipe):
- Two cups flour (1 white and 1 whole wheat)
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped dried rosemary (fresh would be better)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2/3 cup milk
Ingredients for the Filling:
- 2 to 3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced thickly
- 3-4 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill
- 1-2 teaspoons of dried basil (but fresh would be better)
- 2 cups cheese grated cheddar cheese is recommended. I wanted a rich deep taste and texture so I mixed in grated cheddar, cottage cheese and sirene until I got to the 2 cup equivalent.
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise (I didn’t have enough mayonnaise so I mixed in sour cream)
How to make the Crust:
Combine flour, pepper, salt, rosemary and baking powder in a bowl. Use two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture. You want the butter pieces to be little pea sizes. Add milk and stir to gently blend well. The dough should be soft and just a little sticky. Don’t mix it too much. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough by folding it over a few times. Again handle as little as possible.
Chill for 10 minutes. Divide the dough in half and roll out half of it to fit a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate (or whatever pie pan you have). Heat oven to 400 degrees.
How to make the Filling:
The original recipe said to peal the tomatoes but that’s too much work for me and I don’t mind the skin. So I just cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. Scoop the seeds out of the seed pockets with your index finger. Don’t be too obsessive about getting every seed – one scoop per seed pocket will generally do the trick.
In a small bowl mix together mayo, sour cream, dill and basil.
Slice the tomatoes thickly and place a layer in the pie. Lightly spread the mayo-dill mixture over the first layer. Continue layering and spreading the mayo sauce on the top of each layer until pan is basically full or you run out to tomatoes. Top with grated (or cottage) cheese, then spread the remaining mayonnaise over the top (this is not a particularly tidy process).
I wasn’t convinced that I could top the pie with a crust given the pan I was using to bake the pie so I decided to top my pie with crumbled up bread crumbs. But if you have a better pan that me, roll out the remaining dough and cover the pie, crimping the edges to seal them. Cut several slits in the top of the pie and brush milk or cream (you can sprinkle the top with a little coarse salt or Parmesan cheese if desired). Note: in hindsight I could have topped the pie with a lid of pie crust. Maybe I will next time.
Bake 25 minutes. Let rest 5 or 10 minutes before slicing.
Serves 6 to 8 people. Serve with green salad.
If your tomatoes are runny: When you cut into the pie, just lift the slice out to (??) then tip the pie dish into the sink to pour off the juices. If you find your tomatoes give off lots of juice, consider sprinkling a layer of tomatoes with a tablespoon of flour.
I was really down about the pie after I’d made it yesterday. I was hot. Really hot and while the pie was tasty I thought: it’s a lot of work for one person and I don’t think that it will keep well as leftovers so I dished up servings for my friends leaving me about a 1/4 of a pie. This morning however I was curious about my pie. So I had a slice. I think that’s okay–it’s a vegetable pie after all–and I have to say, even the next day it was good. I mean really good. Sure the bottom was a little soggy-gooey but the tomato filling is to die for. I shouldn’t have worried so much about the pie.
It’s funny the difference a day makes because today, I am really excited about the pie and I’ve been thinking about making another one in the near future. Maybe this time I’ll layer in spicy peppers or add a little spicy brown mustard to the mayo-dill mix for a little extra pizazz. Oh, the options!!