Wish Upon A Dish: Tomato Pie ♥ That "Other" Fruit Pie

September 7, 2012

Tomato Pie ♥ That "Other" Fruit Pie

I am a little bit embarrassed to admit that I have never eaten a slice of tomato pie.

How can that be when every food blog has at least one post devoted to the end of summer's favorite fruit pie?

Does anyone out there know why the tomato is sold as a vegetable when botanically, it is a fruit?

Until the late 1800's the tomato was classified as a fruit to avoid taxation, but this was changed after a Supreme Court ruling that the tomato is a vegetable and should be taxed accordingly, so our government, once again, managed to twist the laws of nature to make the laws of us, monetary.

When I finally decided to make my first pie, I needed to make sure the recipe was a good one. I didn't want one with goat cheese or with more spices than an award winning chili, or for that matter a revised, redone and reworked recipe. I wanted a Southern, old-timey, many generational perfected pie with traditional ingredients and delicious, simply with the taste of tomato. Is that too much to ask for?

I could have just turned to Natalie Dupree for a recipe but I got one that actually fell into my lap by way of email, and yes, from a good ole southern boy.

I just happen to have one gorgeous ripened tomato still on the vine with his name on it.

I made a few adjustments because I could. I used a ready made crust, I added some cheddar cheese, I used Romano instead of Parmesan, I used Vegenaise, and I cut the amount of basil in half.
I also processed the extra dough from the edge of the pan with butter to make a crumb topping. I thought it would add crunch.

When the tart came out of the oven the top wasn't as browned as I would have liked, so before serving I threw it under the broiler for 5 minutes to give it some color and the crunch I was looking for.

This was excellent and easy with the premade crust, but if you are adept at crust making, you should make it. If you make your own, you can make it thicker then a store bought one, although flaky and adequate, I would have preferred homemade.

This would make a perfect lunch or brunch dish, but for dinner I would serve this with a grilled piece of meat or a few slices of a nice roast.

Tomato-Basil Pie
Recipe adapted from Cole Ellis, Capitol Grille, Nashville Tennessee
Yield: One 10-inch pie

* All-purpose flour, 2½ cups, plus extra for rolling
* Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons
* Unsalted butter, 2 sticks, cut into 1/2" cubes
* Ice water, 1/4 cup
* Mayonnaise, 1 1/2 cups
* Buttermilk, 1/4 cup
* Large egg, 1
* Fresh basil leaves, 4 cups (stacked, rolled and thinly sliced crosswise)
* Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup, finely grated
* Scallions, 6 (finely chopped)
* Freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon
* Medium tomato, 1 (halved and cut into 1/4" thick slices) or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1. Make the dough: Using the food processor (or a large bowl and a whisk), pulse together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
2. Add the unsalted butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (if using a mixing bowl, use your fingers to work the butter into the flour). While pulsing the machine, add the ice water. Pulse until the dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed in your hand, about 5 pulses (if using a mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir the ice water into the flour).
3. Place a long piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board, turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap, flatten the dough with the heel of your hand into a 1-inch-thick disc, then wrap with the plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the bottom position and another rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured cutting board. Flour the top of the dough, then use the rolling pin to roll the dough into a 14-inch circle that is about 1/4" thick. Carefully roll the dough up and onto the rolling pin, and use the pin to transfer the dough to the tart pan, fitting it into the bottom and sides of the pan and pinching off any excess dough. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
5. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Use the fork to prick the bottom of the dough all over, then place a 14-inch sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil into the tart pan. Add enough dried beans or pie weights to weigh the paper down and bake the tart crust on the bottom rack until the edges of the crust are firm and beginning to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper or aluminum foil and pie weights. Return the tart to the bottom oven rack and continue to bake until the crust is golden, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
6. Meanwhile, make the pie filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, large egg, fresh basil, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, scallions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper.
7. Pour one-quarter of the pie filling into the tart shell. In a circular, overlapping pattern, arrange the tomato slices. Cover with the rest of the filling and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Bake on the middle rack until the filling is set and the top of the tart is browned, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.

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