Thursday, July 28, 2011

Southern Tomato Pie

I've been somewhat obsessed with the idea of a Southern-style tomato pie lately. Tomato pie is not something I grew up eating in the Deep South. Like fried chicken with waffles, I had never heard of tomato pie before moving to North Carolina. While I can't find much about its culinary history online, I suspect that what I think of as Southern tomato pie is a Carolina thing.

For my first attempt, I went with the obvious -- Paula Deen's recipe. Despite my reading scads of reviews and following the many suggestions to scale back on the mayonnaise and cheese, the tomato pie was a gloppy, goopy mess. It tasted, good mind you, but it is not a recipe I'll make again. Good Southern food does not have to be that artery-clogging.

Over the last few weeks, I've perused dozens of tomato pie recipes looking for inspiration. So many options! Pastry or corn meal crust? Sharp cheddar, Fontina, Gruyere, Parmesan, Mozzarella or goat cheese? Onion? Garlic? In the meantime, I made Tomato Basil Gratin to stave off the cravings. Ultimately, I adapted this recipe from Emeril's Cheesy Creole Tomato Pie in Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh.

Tomato Pie

  • Savory pie crust (I used Pillsbury)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese at room temperature (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil
  • 3/4 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup Panko (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Roll out the pie crust, drop it into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges.
  3. Delicately, use a fork to put a few holes in the bottom of the pie crust.
  4. Bake the pie crust for about 10 minutes.
  5. Whisk the egg white, then use a pastry brush to paint the warm pie crust so that the entire crust is lightly coated. Set aside.
  6. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently so that the leeks do not brown.
  7. Add the garlic and thyme to the skillet and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  8. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the salt and pepper.
  9. Put the mayonnaise, egg yolk, goat cheese and basil into blender and process until smooth.
  10. Mix together 1 tablespoon of the Panko bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese.
  11. Sprinkle half of the remaining bread crumbs in the bottom of the pie crust, followed by half the leeks. Top with a layer of tomatoes. Drizzle the tomatoes with half of the mayo-goat cheese mixture and half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat, beginning with bread crumbs and ending with mozzarella cheese.
  12. Top the pie with the Panko-Parmesan cheese combination.
  13. Bake for around 40 minutes until crusty and bubbly.
Yield: 6-8 first course servings
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Warm savory tomato, delicate leek flavor, a bit of creamy cheese, and a crusty, salty topping -- perfect! There is absolutely nothing goopy or gloppy about this tomato pie. It would make a really lovely first course for a summer supper or brunch. I served it tonight for a light dinner with a crisp green salad on the side.

As much as I loved this tomato pie, my craving is not done with me. How does a tomato pie with a corn meal crust, garlic-basil puree and sharp cheddar cheese sound?

This post is linked up over at Full Plate Thursday and Food Trip Friday.


jellybelly said...

Would love to try this! I love tomato based anything. This is the first time I've heard of tomato pie.

The Twerp and I

Run DMT said...

I have never heard of this, but I am very intrigued by it. You had me at cheese and tomato! lol I definitely need to give this a try. It sounds fabulous! Do you use a frozen savory pie crust or do you make your own? Could you use phyllo dough?

I co-host a weekly foodie meme called Friday Food Fight. I would love for you to link up and share your tomato pie recipe. Hope to see you in the ring! :-)

Lynn said...

Thanks for the invitation! I used a savory Pillsbury crust, but next time may give making my own a try.

♥FoodTripFriday♥ said...

it takes a lot of prepartion time but it's all worth it bec it look so delicious!

Cheerful said...

that looks really delicious...thanks for sharing your recipe! visiting late from FTF, have a great weekend. :)

Lynn said...

I tend to multi-task so put this together in about 20 minutes -- put the pie crust in, start the leeks, do the mayo, grate the cheese and slice the tomatoes while the leeks cook, pull out the pie crust and put it all together. My husband is much more methodical -- prep everything before he starts cooking, do one thing at a time. It would take him 40 minutes. I try to be conservative with the prep times I list!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a great idea - tomato pie. Cheese and tomato seem to be made for each other. I agree with you; too much mayonnaise would ruin it. A cornmeal crust sounds like a great idea.

Cynthia said...

Lynn, I'm going to have to try your pie, I've got a ton of tomatoes too! I got a recipe off the Internet for a heirloom tomato pie, but wasn't happy with the results so I scrapped blogging it. I wont confuse you with my niece any more either! :-)

Miz Helen said...

Hi Lynn,
Your Southern Tomato Pie looks wonderful. With all the tomatoes from the garden, this will be a perfect recipe for us to try. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon. Hope you are having a great week!
Miz Helen