A quintessential southern favorite is tomato pie. And man, do I love it!
To be honest, my family never really made it growing up, and I never cared much about tomatoes at all. It wasn’t until years ago when I grew my first garden and had way more tomatoes at once that I knew what to do with, that I decided to try by hand at this pie.
I toyed with this recipe several times, and I truly believe you can’t mess it up. If you’re making this during the summer months, which you absolutely should, then you’re going to be just fine with any tomatoes from the garden or from the grocery store.
Some of the key aspects for me of cooking good food when your a little bit busy is making sure to use what is fresh, seasonal, and simply – what you have!
Breaking it down!
You may be wondering whether this recipe may be too complicated for you, or thinking you just don’t have enough time in case it doesn’t turn out well, but do not worry. With this recipe, I’ve got you!
The recipe is broken down into what I think makes a great pie, but it is not the Gospel! When it comes to the cheese, you could really use almost anything in your fridge. To ensure that your tomato pie has a distinct flavor to elevate it beyond the competition, I believe you need at least two different types of cheeses. Although I used sharp cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan, other options may include: real (white) cheddar, mild cheddar, or Havarti. A smoked cheese might even add a nice element of flavor. You also want to make sure the cheese you use is hard enough to be grated and mixed together evenly with other ingredients.
As much play room as you have with your cheese options, you can also play with your favorite spices and herbs as well. If you’re afraid of cayenne powder – don’t use it OR you could try paprika, instead. I also like to use a little bit of fresh chives in this recipe when I have it around.
To begin, you will want to get organized. Get all of your ingredients out, and make sure to have a space for you to lay your sliced tomatoes to chill out and release some of their water. We do not want a soggy pie!
I leave the peels on because it is easier and they really don’t bother me in the dish. If you’d rather not have them, you can always remove them: boil some water in a pot and drop them in for about 30-45 seconds each. Then, dunk in some ice water to cool and stop the cooking process. The skins should come right off. I would do this one at a time because we don’t want to accidently over-cook our tomatoes to the point where they cannot be sliced and begin the rest of the process. To this end, it is clearly an extra few steps I prefer to skip.
These days, pimento cheese isn’t a really a secret of the South and a lot of folks around the country have at least seen it before. That pimento cheese consistency is what you want to be looking for when combining the cheese mixture. Smooth, but not wet; thick, but spreadable.
What you might need:
Classic Tomato Pie
- 1 Pillsbury Pie Crust regular or deep dish
- 6-8 medium-size tomatoes sliced
- 1 whole sweet onion diced
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning (sprinkle over tomatoes)
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- 3 tbsp Duke’s Mayo (light)
- 1 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 1 cups gruyere cheese grated
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 3 fresh basil leaves
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper ground
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper ground
- ½ tbsp Italian seasoning (substitute for fresh herbs above)
- Defrost pie shells. Then, lightly paint egg wash on the edges. [This will make it prettier.]
- Bake pie shells at 350° for half of their directed baking time; about 7 min. You want it to be firm and lightly golden, not "done." Let it cool, and do not turn off oven.
- While pie shell bakes, thinly slice fresh tomatoes and lay flat on a double-layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and cover with another single layer of paper towel. [This draws out excess moisture, so your pie isn't soggy.]
- Dice and sauté sweet onion in butter; set aside.
- Next, thoroughly combine cheese mixture ingredients.
- When pie shell is cool, smooth out a thin layer of cheese mixture into the bottom of the shell.
- Place a good, even layer of tomato slices and lightly sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Top layer of sliced tomatoes with ½ of sautéed onion. Repeat this once more, and leave about a ½ inch of space near the top of the crust.
- Spread and smooth out remaining cheese mixture on top; It is fine to have it slightly bulging, but do not smooth out onto the crust.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bubbly. Be sure to let it stop bubbling before serving.