Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tomato Pie

Now with all this garden talk, you need something to make.

The 1987 cover of the Best of Gourmet was my first piece of food remembered porn. (There might have been a crusty stew pot on a cover of a Bon Appetite but I’ll look into that later) The recipe which was originated by Sara Moulton still makes me swoon a little every time I think of it. . I have made this recipe nearly every year since and of course, over time, it morphs into something that is a little yours but still mostly theirs.

The recipis long but I took a cue from my hero Julia Childs when writing a recipe. More explanation is better than less. The experienced cook can cut through the excess and the novice can feel comfortable everything has been explained.

Tomato Pie

Prep time including chilling of dough: 3 hours this includes:
        Baking time for crust: 20 ish minutes.
        Baking time for pie: 1 hour 15 minutes

• Food Processor
• Measuring Cups, wet and dry
• Measuring spoons
• Rolling Pin
• Long bladed Spatula
• Rubbermaid plastic spatula
• 2 Deep Pie Dishes
• Parchment or foil
• Pam
• Pie weights or rice/beans

Makes 2 large pies Each could feed 8 people.

For the pastry:
• ½ pound bacon – cooked and crumbled
• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen
• 4 T. chilled vegetable shortening
• Up to 4T. Ice Water

For the filling:
• 6-8 large tomatoes, sliced 1” inch thick
• 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling the tomatoes
• 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves plus 3 sprigs for garnish
• 1 cup ricotta cheese
• 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
• ½ pound coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
• ¾ - 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Breadbrumbs

• Center of a good textured bread to make approximately 1 1/2 cups
• Parmesan Cheese
• Olive Oil
• S & P

For Assembly:
• ¼ cup shredded mozzarella
• Fresh breadcrumbs


1. Bake off your bacon by lining a sheet pan with foil, place bacon in a single layer-
2. Combine the dry ingredients in the large bowl of your processor fitted with pastry blade (the plastic one you never use).
3. Pulse dry ingredients till mixed
4. Add the butter and shortening and pulse till mixture resembles corn meal or a grainy texture.
5. Add ICE COLD water a little at a time, using longer pulses, till mixture JUST holds together around the center the stem
6. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and with a firm motion, dump the mixture onto the plastic. Remove the blade. I then fold up the edges of the plastic which pushes the small bits into the dough. I try to keep this in an already round form, a little flattened out to help with the rolling out
7. Chill at least 1 hour. This can be done the day ahead
8. Sprinkle flour onto rolling surface and roll out dough. This dough should be somewhat easy to work with. Use a long bladed spatula or old flat cookie sheet to lift off of surface, slightly folding in half and transfer into pie dish. Crimp the edges onto the pie dish slightly going over the edge to keep this heavy crust from caving in on itself.
9. Chill for 1 hour. I have also left this at this point for a day.

1. Prick shell with a fork across bottom and up sides.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
3. Pam a double thickness of parchment or a single sheet of heavy aluminum foil, place pammed side down onto the crust and fill shell with weights or old uncooked dried beans and/or rice
4. Place shell in oven mid to lower third of oven. Lower oven to 325 degrees for 20 minutes
         a. Check on shell after 15 minutes to make sure to sides are staying up. If necessary, push the weights towards a possible cave in.
5. Remove weights once you see the shell has “set” and bake 8-10 minutes more or till lightly golden in color. Cool in pan. Can be made a day ahead at this point.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees if you made shells the day before if not once your shell is removed from the oven RAISE your oven to 350 degrees.
2. While your shell is baking and cooling slice tomatoes 1” thick BUT slice the ends off keeping them a little thinner. Lay thicknesses of paper towels or tea towels on sheet pans or cookies pans. Sprinkle with salt, lay tomato slices onto towels and top with more salt and more towels, place next pan on top of this pan and repeat.
         a. While the tomatoes are draining rotate the top pan to the bottom and so on so all tomatoes have weight on them at one point.
3. In the large bowl of the processor, chop basil, add eggs and pulse, add ricotta, salt, mozzarella, parmesan & pepper. Pulse till combined.

1.  Pat the tomato slices dry with paper towels.
2. Line the bottom of the shell with shredded mozzarella and about ½ inch cheese mixture top with thinner sliced tomato ends and press into cheese mixture.
3. Place more cheese mixture into shell to fill 2/3 – ¾ up sides
4. Arrange the remaining tomato slices in one layer, overlapping slightly, pressing gently into the cheese mixture. Fill center in a concentric pattern with halved slices.
5. Pam a length of aluminum foil to fit around the top crimped part of the crust and cover.
6. Brush the top LIGHTLY with olive oil and bake until the cheese mixture is set 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes if to be served hot. I prefer this served room temperature personally so cool to room temp. Garnish with reserved sprigs.

General Thoughts:

• This is for only the best summer tomatoes. Please do not bother with the hot house variety, wait for summer and go to your local farmers market or backyard!
• Making this on successive mornings can keep your house temperature down.
• I have made this with fat free cheeses and only egg whites, with super duper high end ricotta and the highest fat content cheese there is. With some fresh mozzarella, a little fresh oregano and parsley. My husband even requested one with red pepper flake which I do not recommend. The point is experiment; do not be afraid to use what is on hand.
• I always make two because one goes so darn quick.
• Make the dough ahead and freeze that so when the tomatoes come in you are good to GO!
• This does not freeze at all.

Bacon Tips:

Bake off your bacon by lining a sheet pan with foil, place bacon in a single layer-
You can squish it up a bit to fit more on the pan if needed. Bacon can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Set your timers and keep checking. The difference between cooked bacon and burnt bacon is usually 1 minute! I save old egg crates to drain the bacon on.

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