Our circumstances shape our food experiences, and how we respond to different foods. Sometimes it’s not until later in life that we discover our favorite foods – our travel and life experience bring us new opportunities to sample each flavor and find our definition of “comfort food”.
Growing up in the Midwest, tomato pie was never on my radar. In our Italian-American home, we were no strangers to tomatoes – we had them in sauce, on pizza, in salads, and even on tuna sandwiches (sans lettuce).
This summer my work took me to the southern part of West Virginia, and my first exposure to this dish. My boss was famous for her garden, which was enormous and bountiful. Each week throughout the summer she would bring in baskets full of beautiful squash, onions, tomato, okra and so on. Someone said to me: “Wait ’til she makes her tomato pies.”
“Tomato pie?” I had never heard of such a thing, so I began my research. I found a couple of recipes online, and read a brief history according to this article from Epicurious, which states that the tomato pie is from “the new old school”, not having traditional southern roots. As soon as I received my fresh garden tomatoes from my boss, I came home and immediately got to work on a my first tomato pie, and now I am hooked!
This is definitely a treat – it’s very rich and loaded with fat, but the combination is flawless. The acid note of the tomatoes pairs well with the sharpness of the cheddar, and the flakey pie crust creates a tender base. Served best at room temperature or cold out of the fridge, this dish pairs well with salad and white wine. It’s a taste of summer that is only enjoyable with fresh quality ingredients. The tomatoes are fresh from the farmer’s market, the butter and flour are organic, and the cheese is from a local supplier.
Easy Flakey Pie Crust
Makes one 9″ pie crust
1 1/4 cup of flour
1 stick of butter (very cold and cut into cubes)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of ice cold water
Add flour and salt to food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add in cubed butter and pulse until pea sized lumps form. Gradually add in water (you may not need the entire 1/4 cup) until a ball forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to roll it out.
3-4 farm fresh ripe tomatoes
Bring a pot of water to boil. Score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an X, then blanch the tomatoes by placing in the boiling water for 40-60 seconds, and then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Do not overcrowd the pot, as this will lower the temperature of the water.
Let stand for a 1-2 minutes, and peel off the skins. If the skins will not come off easily, they need to be placed in the boiling water for a longer amount of time.
Once the skins are removed, squeeze out extra water from the tomatoes, and slice into bitesize pieces.
3/4 – 1 cup of real mayonnaise
1 Tbs chopped chives
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten (for eggwash)
Beat egg, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out the pie crust on a floured surface, and press into 9″ pie plate.
Trim off any excess from the edges, and poke the crust all over with a fork. Bake shell for 5-6 minutes and remove from oven.
Brush beaten egg over the edges of crust.
Return the pie to the oven,and bake for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown.
Let stand until cool.
Best served at room temperature or cold from the fridge. Pairs well with salad, grilled meats and white wine.
- eat well, live well.