“You mean, like a deep-dish Chicago-style pizza?”
“Nope. Like an apple pie, but with tomatoes instead of apples.”
“Hmm… really? With two crusts?”
“Yep. With two crusts. In a pie dish.”
This is how most conversations go when I introduce the idea of tomato pie. I had also never heard of it when first served the glorious concoction by my dear friend Cassia, in Asheville, about 5 years ago. She, I believe, got the recipe from our friend Beth, but prior to that, the origins are lost (yes, if I really cared all that much, I’d call Beth and ask her; but who has the time, with all the pie-making and such?). The Pie had a very late presentation this summer, because of our tomato woes. We didn’t grow our own, and the current drought conditions (and subsequent watering restrictions) in Georgia have left everyone short-handed, ending the tomato season early. But I finally got my hands on some lovely heirlooms last week — the preparations were made, the Thompsons were invited (keeping with our annual tradition of sharing a TP with a family who, after the initial introduction 4 years ago, comes back for more every summer), and the pie was consumed at Sunday lunch.
You must taste it to understand. Truly, I have yet to witness someone eat it and not be astonished by how good it really is. The basic premise is that it is a savory deep-dish pie, with key ingredients being garden-fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and good cheeses lending their complementary flavor to the fat in the crust. Warning: if you attempt to skimp on any of these key ingredients, a true Summer Tomato Pie you will not create — and you will miss out on a taste of heaven!
Without further adieu, the recipe, courtesy Cassia Kesler, Beth Lutz, and someone else before that.
- 2 cups white flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup grated gruyere
- 1/2 cup grated ementhal
- 1 1/4 sticks butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
- 7-10 Tbsp ice water
You make this like any traditional pie crust*: Stir together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. With a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the grated cheeses with fingers, making sure the cheese gets coated with the flour. Add 4 Tbsp icewater, and press the mixture together with a rubber spatula, adding more icewater 1 Tbsp at a time until the mixture holds together. Divide the dough in half, and press into 2 balls. Flatten each ball into a 4″-wide disc, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. Let dough sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour before attempting to roll.
*I usually make this a day ahead, and let it refrigerate overnight — it makes the pie-baking day less labor-intensive. Be sure to pull the crust out of the frig before you start the filling.
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/4 pounds assorted tomatoes (can use mixture of sizes and colors), chopped into bite-sized pieces (no need to peel or seed, but you should drain the chopped tomatoes in a colander for a moment after chopping, to rid them of some of the juice)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup grated gruyere
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- ground black pepper to taste
Sautée onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil, until softened. In a large bowl, stir onions and garlic together with the rest of the filling ingredients. Roll out both pie crusts; press one into the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish, add the filling, and top with the second crust. Cut vents in top of crust. Bake at 375º for about 50 minutes, or until filling is bubbly (filling must bubble!). Allow pie to sit for a couple hours to set; serve slightly warm or at room temperature.