Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer's Bounty: Farmer's Tomato Pie

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we opened the windows.  It was remarkable: high 60s, sunny, a slight breeze in the air.  S. and I both went running (I much more slowly, and with some walk breaks, but still got my 5 miles in), and then we packed up the bikes and headed down to Stockton, where got on the towpath and rode to New Hope and back.  It couldn't have been a more perfect day for this little adventure; there was even a Civil War reenactment going on at the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum (a little more museum-like than Howell Living History farm, but cool nonetheless), and as a bonus, I even got to stop at the Stockton indoor farmer's market (my excuse: a crusty bread to go with a soup that I made for a friend who has a three week old baby), where they have fresh organic ice cream again "made with milk and cream from happy cows."  As we were biking back towards our car, I found myself thinking that though fall will always be my favorite season, I really do like summer, when it's not sweltering hot.

Late summer, of course, means tomatoes.  As long as I can remember summer has been a time to too many tomatoes; when I was little, and my father grew them in our back yard garden, my parents set me up at a little table on the corner of our street with bags of tomatoes, where I would sell them by the pound.  This was more than a little embarrassing for me, and I vowed that if I ever had too many tomatoes, I'd either give them away or find a way to use them.

I remember when I first found this recipe: I was overjoyed, because I had a bevvy of tomatoes from the garden of my own, and there's only so much fresh pasta sauce a girl can eat.  The recipe has evolved a lot since then (I learned, for example, that tomatoes get soupy if you don't seed them first, that paper towels work well to remove some of the excess moisture that could make for a soggy crust, and that cheese and mayonnaise actually go well together, despite the fact that it sounds like a  bad 1950s casserole).  The bacon is a fairly new addition, and is completely unnecessary, though the smoky flavor goes well with the cheddar version of the pie, so you could also use turkey or vegan bacon, if you felt inspired to do so.  The crust is from a recipe passed down to me from my mother-in-law, who got it from her sister, who used to work at a health food restaurant where it was the go-to quick crust, and I use it all the time with a variety of pies; sometimes I vary the balance of whole wheat to regular flour, but it never disappoints me, and I find I curse less at it when I'm rolling it out.

This dish does take some time to make (slicing and seeding tomatoes, rolling out crust, etc. etc.), but stick with it, knowing you'll be down a few pounds of tomatoes in the end, and it's not too terribly bad for you, even though it's sort of like eating dessert for dinner.  Certainly, it's better than eating a can of whipped cream.


Farmer's Tomato Pie

1 pie crust (see below)
1 1/3 c. shredded low fat cheddar or Italian blend cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. fine dry breadcrumbs
2 lbs. ripe tomatoes cut into wedges and seeded, dried between two sheets of double thickness paper towel
1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in halves
3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1 t. salt
1-2 T. mayonnaise (vegan if you like)
1/4-1/2 c. loosely packed small basil leaves

Pie crust

1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. oil (canola or very mild olive)
1/8 - 1/4 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Fork together flour and salt, make a well for the liquids.  Combine oil and water (I know, they don't mix) and dump them into the flour.  Fork together all of the ingredients until it forms a ball.  If you need to add more flour and water, do so.  The dough should be a little bit springy.

Roll out a prepared pie crust to a twelve-inch circle. Place in a 10" quiche pan or a 10" pie pan, and trim.  (Note: you could probably use a tart pan here, too, and just press the crust into the pan.  I've never tried this, but if you do, let me know how it works out.)  If using a pie pan, crimp the edges. Line the unpricked pastry with TWO thicknesses of foil. Bake 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 4-5 minutes, until set and dry. Remove from the oven.

Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees.


Sprinkle 1/3 c. cheese evenly over baked shell while it's still hot.
Sprinkle garlic evenly over cheese.
Sprinkle 2 t. breadcrumbs over garlic and cheese.
Top with 1/3 of the tomato wedges and 1/3 of the cherry tomatoes.
Sprinkle 1/3 c. cheese.
Sprinkle 2 t. of the dry breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle with half of the bacon, if using.
Top with 1/3 of the tomato wedges and 1/3 of the cherry tomatoes.
Sprinkle 1/3 c. cheese.
Sprinkle 2 tsp of the dry breadcrumbs.
Top with 3 of the tomato wedges and 1/3 of the cherry tomatoes.

Sprinkle with salt.  For the last layer, mix the last 1/3 c. cheese with mayonnaise, and spread (or crumble) evenly over the top.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and tomatoes are just beginning to brown.  Remove to wire rack, sprinkle with basil and let stand for 10 minutes.  At right: shiny plate club, courtesy of S.
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1 comment:

  1. Oh this looks so delicious and perfect for the summer! I also tend to associate tomatoes with summer time and I have to say I am having my enough this summer but none taste as good as home grown ones.


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