Tuesday it was a whopping 92 degrees in Portland.
And ok…I’ll admit it. 92 degrees isn’t that hot. But, for Portland, that’s pretty warm. I’m not complaining about it, though. This summer has been ugly and cloudy and manic, and I’m welcoming the hot temperatures. At least the sun is shining!
I’ve been craving Tomato Pie all summer long. But, thanks to the crummy weather this year, the tomatoes haven’t been ripe until recently. Instead of eating and/or making this glorious tomato pie all summer, I’ve been reminiscing about past summers (when I could make this pie in July!).
This pie is a classic southern recipe and isn’t particularly healthy – you take a wonderful healthy ingredient like fresh tomatoes and pair them with pie crust (i.e. butter), cheese, and sour cream and/or mayo. But who’s counting calories anyways? I’m certainly not. The pie tastes absolutely delicious and its a great way to use up some of your tomatoes (because, lets face it…we have tomatoes coming out our ears!).
I took the cheater route and bought pre-made pie crusts from Trader Joe’s. I must say, I really love their pies crusts (and I’m not ashamed to admit it!). They taste great, they’re cheap, and are great when you’re in a hurry. I had to whip up this pie in the small window of time I had between work and girl’s night – so crust from scratch was not ideal. However, due to the heat yesterday, my TJ’s pie crusts thawed realllllly quickly and ended up being a pain to work with (I can’t imagine that making a pie crust from scratch in this heat would be any easier). I should have put the crusts in the pie tins and then chilled them for a bit – but I didn’t think about that before I put them in the oven to par bake for 10 minutes. Instead of nicely arranged (with pinched edges), my crusts sunk down into the bottom of the pie tins. I had a bottom crust and that was it. Needless to say, I was annoyed. But, what can you do? I was going to have thick crust on the bottom and none on the sides. And that was that. So, my beautiful tomato pie quickly turned into an ugly tomato tart. I sucked it up, piled the tomatoes, onions, basil and bacon on top of the crust and topped it with cheddar and sour cream.
And you know what? It tasted just fine. In fact, the 7 girls at my weekly girls night managed to devour both tomato pies (and here I thought I’d have leftovers to bring to my sister in the hospital. Guess not?). The crust was a little gummy (because it was so thick) but the flavors of the ‘pie filling’ were fantastic. The juices of the tomatoes always make this pie a little runny anyway, so it’s never very pretty. But I don’t mind, because it tastes so darn good.
Adapted from several blogs, online recipes, and my own brain.
*Makes 2 small pies
2 pie crusts (pre-made or your favorite recipe. I usually use Mark Bittman’s recipe.)
5 – 8 fresh ripe tomatoes (I used a variety of sizes and colors of heirloom tomatoes.)
1.5 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup of sour cream (or mayo. most recipes call for mayo, but I prefer using sour cream)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 sweet white onion, sliced thin
6 strips of bacon, cut into lardons (*optional, you can skip if you’d like this pie to be vegetarian)
salt & pepper to taste
Cut the tomatoes into thin slices & de-seed the slices (if possible. The seeds made the pie more runny, so less seeds is better. You don’t have to be TOO thorough.) Place the tomato slices into a colander and lightly salt. Let drain for 30+ minutes.
While the tomatoes drain, prepare your pie crust. Place into 2 small pie tins, and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times. Par bake the crust at 375 for 10 minutes.
While the pie crust bakes, crisp your bacon (if using). Cook the bacon pieces over medium heat until cooked all the way through (to your liking). If you so desire, you can sauté/caramelize the onions as well. (Last summer, I didn’t pre-cook the onions before baking them in the pie. This summer I decided to slightly caramelize them before baking. I don’t honestly think it makes a huge difference.)
After 10 minutes, remove the crust from the oven. Let cool slightly. Add a layer of fresh tomato slices on top of the crust. Dot with fresh basil leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Add a small layer of onions and bacon on top of the tomato slices. Repeat (tomato slices, basil, s&p, bacon, and onions) until the pie crust is full. You can usually only fit 2 or 3 layers.
Stir together the sour cream and grated cheddar. Season with pepper (I also added a little smoked paprika). Using your hands (yes, hands! they work best for this.) place small dollops of the cheese mixture on top of the pie. Spread as evenly as possible, until the mixture covers (more or less) the top of the pie. If it doesn’t look perfect, that is ok – the cheese will melt together when baking.
Bake for 30 minutes (or until the top is browned) at 375. Remove from the oven, and cool slightly before serving.