Each summer I eagerly anticipate the tomato harvest. I get my organic garden starts as soon as they appear at the local nursery, plant them in composted beds when winter’s frost has passed, and patiently bide my time as they rise to fill the tomato cages.
I watch as the sun turns tiny green orbs into ripe, juicy fruit that bends the vines under their weight. The Tomato Gods never disappoint. This year, past favorites like Juliette and Early Girl are sharing center stage with larger heirlooms including Cour Di Bue (Italian Oxheart), Yellow Brandywine and Cherokee Purple.
Luckily, you don’t have to grow your own to take advantage of the season’s windfall. A visit to your local farmers market will reward you 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 more than 3,000+ heirloom tomatoes in cultivation, there is literally a tomato to suit every palate.
I’m always experimenting with creative and tasty ways to make use of the abundant harvest. One of my all time favorite summer recipes is Savory Tomato Pie. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the season’s bounty, and make good use of your bumper tomato crop.
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 is perfect served 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!