My friend Tyler has been dying to introduce me to tomato pie and I was intrigued. It’s a classic Southern dish, and Tyler being a good ol’ Southern boy himself, I had to see what the deal was. Although he hates my description, I like to call it a deep tomato flavored lasagna that’s baked in a pie crust instead of layered with pasta. You basically layer peeled, strained tomatoes with cheesy goodness, fresh herbs and caramelized onions in a pie shell and bake it to melted, flaky perfection.
This time we had Chef Zachary Mazi of LionFish SupperClub in the kitchen with us and things got quite creative. Our friend Mary Lou was also present as the deputy of fun: doing anything and everything, including dishes (we always love dish-doers, they’re the best)!
To start, you’ll need about two large onions. Slice them up, them caramelize them with butter over low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.
Choose six to seven pounds of large, meaty heirloom tomatoes. Slice an “X” in the skin at the bottom, then blanch in boiling water for 20 seconds – no longer or they’ll start to cook!
Once they’re cool enough to handle, cut out the core and peel.
Cut into uniform 1/4″ slices and quarter.
Place in a large screen strainer or colander and press to strain out the juices. Hopefully you can save the skins and juices for other uses!
Chef Zachary tip: you can dry the skins and grind them to make tomato powder. OMG.
The caramelized onions are extra yummy with some balsamic, mmmmm…
Now get to work on your pie crust. I love this all-butter recipe from the New York Times. It’s so delicious and flaky, you won’t believe how easy it is to make!
Tyler’s not a baker, so his kitchen came with few pastry supplies. While I was busy gasping, “You don’t have a rolling pin?!” Chef Zachary just shrugged and grabbed the wine bottle we’d recently polished off. The flour we used was super tasty, but made the crust extra crumbly. I’m glad I wasn’t the one rolling it out. Oh yeah, and we had one pie pan and one tart pan. Improvising is half the fun in cooking!
Whip up your homemade mayo, here’s Tyler’s recipe:
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 t Dijon mustard
- 1 t lemon juice (to taste)
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1/3 C canola oil
- 1/4 C olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 T filtered water
- In food processor, add first 4 ingredients and process for 10 seconds.
- While still running, drizzle in canola oil over about 1 minute.
- Transfer to a bowl and whisk in water, then olive oil to desired thickness over about 30 seconds.
- Add salt and pepper.
Shred 2 cups of fontina cheese.
About now, you should think about preheating the oven to 350˚ F.
Mix the shredded cheese with enough mayo to make it stick together, and form two balls. Yes, very funny.
Layer about 3/4″ of tomatoes in each pan with salt and pepper and chopped herbs.
Flatten out each cheese ball and spread almost to the edge of each pie, leaving a border of tomato to peek through.
Then, try to have as much fun as Tyler while topping the pies with the onions.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking and rotating halfway.
Tadah! Garnish creatively, if desired.
Extra, extra: tart-topping party! We didn’t have enough onions for both pies, so Zack blistered some Padróns and roasted some red peppers. After baking the tart until the cheese melted, he topped it with the peppers. The sauce you see is simply roasted red peppers that have been peeled and puréed. It was baked a bit longer to set.
Beautiful AND scrumptious! This just gives you an idea of how much license you can take with a recipe—that’s what it’s all about. Have fun with it, nothing is written in stone!
Thanks for reading, folks! Be sure to check my events page for upcoming holiday markets. I’m working on some new products that will make great gifts!