Actually, it’s more of a *tart*, but I have a deep-seated fear of alliterations so Tomato Pie it is.
Our tomato plants have showered us with a delightful crop of little baby tomatoes. They aren’t midget tomatoes of the cherry variety, they are just very small, terribly adorable, perfectly proportioned infantile tomatoes. I’m not sure if they are supposed to be this minute, or if it is a freak of nature (I’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately and everything is subject to being eyed as the precursor to an alien invasion) but we’re happy to have them!
Time to make tomato pie. I know, I go from describing them in all their cuteness to, “let’s eat it!” in about five seconds flat. What can I say – you have to strike while the iron’s hot.
My family has been making this dish, or versions of this dish for years and it never ceases to charm and amaze. Halfway between a gourmet pizza and a tomato tart rustique – this pie is the farm wife’s gateway to simple elegance and hunger-defeating practicality.
*makes 2 single crust pies
for the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled butter, shortening or lard
7-8 Tablespoons ice water
for the filling:
4-5 medium sized tomatoes or 7-8 baby ones sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
fresh basil, oregano, parsley chopped finely
cheese of your choice to top – I like mozzarella or cheddar
Oven preheated to 375 degrees
Firstly, let us make the crust. I am not a pastry expert, far from it in fact, but I can get by if need be. This is a very simple crust recipe, courtesy of my Joy of Cooking cookbook, and I find that as long as I don’t treat it like bread dough and knead the daylights out of it, it turns out just fine.
Sift together the salt and flour into a bowl then chop up whatever fat you are using and add it to the flour mix. If you have a pastry blender, now is the time to use it. Cut in the fat until the flour resembles damp sand. If you don’t have a pastry blender, or are one of these rustic people who like to do everything by hand, go ahead and use your fingers to do the job. I am one of those rustics and love to use my finger tips to spread the fat through the flour – makes me feel a little bit like Julia Child.
So – the fat is cut in, well done. Now, sprinkle the ice water over the flour and gently mix it in. If you need a little bit more water, that’s ok – but only add it by the teaspoon – you don’t want this dough to get soppy. Once the dough forms a ball that sticks together, Stop Mixing. Don’t over mix the crust, it gets tough at the drop of a hat. It’s not like a little chewiness is going to kill anybody, but we’re going for flaky. Split the dough in half and then roll each half out into a circular shape, about 9 inches in diameter. If you need to lightly flour the surface, that’s fine. Don’t over work it, try to roll it out as simply as you can. Mine stayed together pretty well without a lot of extra flour. Once the dough has been rolled out, lay it in a lightly greased pie plate. I’m not real picky about getting it up over the edges, since it’s really a tart and all, I just smoosh it into place to make a shell of sorts.
Now for the topping. This is the easy part! Brush the bottom of the crusts with some of the olive oil and then lay down your sliced tomatoes in one or two layers. Then sprinkle the herbs over the tomatoes, then sprinkle the cheese. How hard was that? Once the crust is done it’s just a lot of sprinkling. Drizzle any remaining oil over the top and then put those pies in the oven.
They should bake about 15-20 minutes, or until the crust has browned around the edges and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and serve.