Each summer I eagerly anticipate our tomato harvest. I get my starts as soon as they appear at the local garden store, plant them in composted beds when winter’s frost has passed, and patiently bide my time as they rise to fill the tomato cages.
Apparently the growing conditions in my garden are perfect, because this year’s juicy, sun-ripened crop is bigger than ever!
Past favorites like Juliette, Early Girl, Black Krim, Sweet 100, and Sungold, are sharing center stage with a mix of unique heirloom varieties (Cour Di Bue, Yellow Brandywine, Cherokee Purple) gifted to me by a seed-saving friend.
You don’t have to garden to take advantage of the season’s windfall. If you’ve visited a local farmers’ market lately, you’ll find vendor booths stocked with an amazing array of varieties to choose from: Brandywines, Japanese Black Trifele, Sun Gold, Sweet 100’s, Green Zebra, Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, Pineapple, San Marzano, Early Girl, Yellow Pear. . .the list goes on, and on! With an estimated 3,000+ heirloom tomatoes in cultivation, there is literally a tomato to suit every palate.
Finding creative and tasty ways to use the abundant harvest is always a challenge. If you’ve been rewarded with a bumper crop of ripe tomatoes, try making tomato pie. This savory recipe is the perfect way to showcase the season’s bounty, and has become a family favorite in our home.
Think layers of thick-cut sun ripened heirloom tomatoes in a flakey crust with sweet caramelized onions, garlic, and fresh basil smothered in melted cheese (*I like a combination of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Toma & Valley Ford Cheese Co. Estero Gold).
This southern-inspired dish goes great with a simple green salad and a glass of beer or dry white wine. Definitely a pie worth going back for seconds y’all!
Karen’s Tomato Pie (serves 8)
- 1 single pie crust (frozen or homemade) * Trader Joes makes a great roll-out frozen pie crust
- 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4-6 large heirloom tomatoes (single or mixed varieties), sliced
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- 2 cups grated cheeses of choice *I like the combination of Point Reyes Farmstead Toma and Valley Ford Cheese Company Estero Gold.
- 3/4 cup good quality Mayonnaise (preferably organic)
- 2 tablespoons fresh pesto
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
1. Lightly salt sliced tomatoes to draw out extra juice, and allow them to drain in a colander for 20 minutes. Pat off excess salt and dry slices with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. DO NOT skip this step or your pie will be soupy.
2. While the tomatoes drain, sauté sliced onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil over low heat until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
3. Prepare a single pie crust according to your favorite recipe. Lay the pie dough in a 9″ pie dish and crimp edges of crust. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork to prevent bubbles.
4. Mix mayonnaise, pesto, garlic, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Add 2 cups grated cheeses and stir to combine.
5. Layer ingredients in two layers in the pie shell as follows: tomatoes, basil, onion, and cheese/mayonnaise mixture.
6. Finish by sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top of the cheese/mayo combination.
7. Bake on center oven rack until browned and bubbly–approximately 40-45 minutes.
8. Remove and allow pie to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!