Summer has arrived and the farm stands and markets are starting to overflow with delicious veggies! Strangely, as a child, I didn’t like raw tomatoes, much to the chagrin of my grandmother, who had a massive garden, and grew at least ten varieties of tomato. My aversion to them thankfully went away in my twenties, and now, I eat tomatoes almost every day in the summer: caprese salad, Israeli salad, tomato sandwiches, gazpacho, and also tomato pie. This is a favorite of my kids, likely because it involves a TON of cheese. It’s not as healthy as lots of tomato based recipes, but makes a delicious light meal with a side of mixed greens in a vinaigrette, or is also great as a side dish for supper. Can be served at room temperature or cold- when I’m on vacation at the beach, and eating a bit less healthy than I do at home, I love a cold slice of tomato pie for breakfast! Yes, I know that’s a little weird, but I’m not a cereal or toast eater.
Let’s get started…
One pie crust (you can make it yourself, but I’m lazy…and use either Pillsbury refrigerated in the deepest pie dish you have or a deep dish frozen option in an aluminum tin)- prebake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown in a 350 degree oven. Use pie weights or uncooked rice to weight the bottom of the crust so it doesn’t bubble up. Set aside and leave the oven on.
Slice four to five ripe large tomatoes to about ¼ inch thick and put the slices on doubled or tripled up sheets of paper towel. When finished slicing, blot the tops by pressing firmly with more paper towels. You want to get out as much liquid as possible
Thinly slice one large red or Vidalia onion
Cut one bunch fresh basil leaves into chiffonade (roll the leaves up lengthwise, then thinly slice across the roll)
Layer half of the tomatoes on bottom of pie crust. Hit them with fresh ground salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the basil on top. Evenly cover this with half the onions. Repeat, pressing down to keep it from getting too tall, but it’s ok if it’s taller than the pie dish- it’ll deflate a bit as it cooks!
You can also add some precooked crumbled bacon on top of the onion layers, which has been a big hit with my kids.
Next, mix 8 ounces of cheddar cheese with about ¾ cup of Duke’s Mayonnaise. You want it to be a stiff mixture, and the stiffness will depend on what size shreds you use. You want it to be about the consistency of Play-Doh- malleable and not runny. Evenly spread this on top of the pie dish- a rubber spatula works well for this, but honestly, using your hands to get it even is the easiest way to get it even. Cover the pie crust edge with tinfoil. Put on a baking sheet (the pie often bubbles over), then put in oven for 75 minutes, checking periodically. If the cheese starts to get too brown, lightly cover the whole thing with foil. Remove from oven. There will likely be a fair amount of liquid bubbling at the sides. Blot up as much as you can with folded up paper towels. Let cool for at least an hour and serve at room temperature – serves 8. Slices WILL be messy! And delicious!