Southern Tomato and Cheese Pie
August is the time of year we've been waiting for - the arrival of the tomato harvest! It's so satisfying to see those pops color throughout the garden, promising delicious fresh salads for the summer and satisfying sauces to take us through the winter. Here's a main dish tomato recipe that celebrates the tasty treat in all of it's glory.
Southern Tomato and Cheese Pie
Adapted from Saveur.com
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1⁄2 tsp. granulated sugar
1⁄2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ice-cold water
1⁄2 tsp. white vinegar
Filling and topping
3 1⁄2 lb. fresh tomatoes (about 12), cored, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice, divided
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. sugar, divided
1 tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄3 cup grated fontina cheese
1⁄3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 large heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced and blotted dry with paper towels
Make the pie crust: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium for a few seconds. Begin adding the butter one cube at a time. Continue until the flour is speckled and crumbly, about 4 minutes. With the mixer still running, add the water and vinegar until just combined. Do not overmix. Press the dough into a 6-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Bring the crust to room temperature and lightly butter a 10-inch metal pie pan. Preheat the oven to 400°. Dust your counter and rolling pin lightly with flour and roll the crust slightly larger than your pan. Lay the crust in the pan and press gently into its edges. Cut off the edges that hang over and discard. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.
Lay foil or parchment paper on top of the crust and weigh that down with dried beans or rice. Blind-bake the shell for 30 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil or parchment and bake 5 minutes more. Set the cooked crust aside as you prepare the filling.
Make the tomato filling: Toss half of the diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar. Set them over a colander to drain while you get everything else ready, at least an hour.
Lower your oven to 375°. In a medium sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter and then add the onion and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat until deeply caramelized. This will take about 45 minutes.
Toss the remaining diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, thyme, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a sheet tray with as much room separating the individual pieces as possible. Slide the tray onto the middle rack of your oven and roast for 30-35 minutes. You're looking for the tomatoes to dry out and brown slightly.
Once all the individual components are done, stir together the onion, the fresh and roasted diced tomatoes, the remaining salt, sugar, black pepper, and basil.
Make the topping and finish the pie: In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, fontina, and Parmigiano. Spoon the tomato filling into your blind-baked crust. Top with the cheese mixture and heirloom tomato slices. Bake in the middle of your oven for 30 minutes. Delicious!
Chef's tip: If you're short on time you can substitute a store-bought pie crust from the refrigerated section. Blind-bake it as per the recipe to ensure the crust is flaky rather than soggy.
- Rebecca Sears