Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tomato Time!

So since our return, I've become a little obsessive about tomatoes, and I think I'll blame my mother for that....on two counts--her own uncontrollable urges to eat them and the fact that, not only had she completely restocked my fridge (after a meltdown catastrophe..but that's another story entirely), but she went to Lombardi Ranch for some local produce, which, of course, included a tell-tale brown bag stuffed with the juicy, red orbs. I apologize for that Sarah Palin-esque sentence, but can't you see how pure, unadulterated enthusiasm for something can render one unintelligible? I think I understand her so much better now...but I digress...

We've been having tomatoes every night, sliced plain with a little salt or in salads mostly, until we ran out, which caused some considerable grief on my part. Though my mouth is raw and slightly peeling inside, I could not be hampered in my efforts to obtain some more of the the sweet/tart fruit, so off to Lombardi's I went yesterday, with two bewildered children who somehow thought that we were going to Target...I think not!

As we pulled up to the dusty farm stand, Mrs. Lombardi herself, and several of her pint-sized redheaded grandchildren were there to greet us. Though I was tempted to buy a "lug", I'm not quite ready to begin canning them, so I just stuck to a large bucket of so-called seconds, which are the ugly ones...split or misshapen in some way...but I like them because they look exactly like the ones we grow at home, and they are inexpensive. Their somewhat unsightly appearance, does not affect their flavor at all, however, as they are worlds away (literally) from those lovely, yet watery and mealy tomatoes available at the grocery store. It's true, folks, you can't judge a book by its cover.

We were rung up by a sweet six-year-old boy, who counted my change perfectly by the way, and headed towards home, my head swimming with ideas on how I could continue to sneak in some tomatoes for dinner without total mutiny. For some reason, I kept thinking about tomato pie, which wouldn't exactly be sneaking in the tomatoes, but rather making them star in their very own dish.

Once the idea caught hold, it could not be pushed aside. I absolutely had to make tomato pie. I envisioned one, piled high with sliced tomatoes, seasoned with fresh herbs I'd bought at the farmers' market, and topped with copious amounts of grated cheese. I researched many versions online, and came up with one I think was pretty darn terrific.

I hope you'll agree. Even my pickiest kid ate it, though he suggested I add sausage next time. Sigh. So much for a meatless main...

Tomato Pie
serves 4-6

pie dough for single-crust pie (if you are buying the dough, I like the Trader Joe's brand, otherwise I always make Martha's Pate Brisee)
4 large beefsteak tomatoes
salt and pepper
2 T chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme and lemon basil)
1 C mixed grated cheese (I used cheddar, fontina and parmesan)
2 T mayonnaise (or more if desired)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust into 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges as desired. Place in freezer for 10 minutes to cool. Meanwhile, core then halve tomatoes around their middle (equator line) and dig your fingers into the chambers to squish out the seeds. Do this over the sink and wear an me on this one....Then slice the tomatoes in 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and let drain in a colander while you pre-bake the crust.

Remove the crust from the freezer and poke the inside all over with the tines of a fork. Line with foil and pie weights (or rice or dry beans) and bake for about 10 minutes, or until crust just begins to firm up and get a tad golden. Remove from the oven.

Remove the weights, and layer in the tomatoes and season again with some salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the fresh herbs. Mix the grated cheese with the mayo, and spread over the top of the pie. If there are any holes in the topping, some additional grated parmesan covers them up perfectly.

Return the pie to the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes more, until filling is bubbling and cheese is melted and browned. You may need to cover the edge of the crust so it doesn't get too dark.

Letting it cool for at least 15 minutes will allow the pie to set a bit, but if you can't wait, it's still really good super's just a little bit runny.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I am drooling! A little like my tomato tart, but perhaps a bit more healthy?! Mom

Ann Mah said...

You could also try painting the bottom of your crust with Dijon mustard before adding the tomatoes (if yr kids will eat it!). Looks delish, though... Wish I had a piece for lunch!

Pam said...

That looks SO good! Putting this in my recipe box....of course, I will make it gluten free!!


Alison said...

Ann, I had read about that, but completely forgot to try time for sure.

Pam, I hope you love it as much as we did! :)

Unknown said...

I've been obsessed with tomato pie this summer but have had trouble finding a recipe that isn't too runny. Yours looks great!