When a friend brings you a beautiful bundle of fresh-picked, red tomatoes fresh from her garden, there’s no better complement than to serve them up as delicious tomato pie!
This pie can be made using any of the tomato varieties and of course yours don’t have to be homegrown, but your taste buds will sure thank you if they are! Some common homegrown tomato varieties are Big Beef, Beefsteak, Big Boy, Early Girl, Rutgers, and your larger Heirloom Tomatoes, just to name a few. I understand versions of this recipe have also been made quite tasty with a red/green tomato mix, though I have yet to try it for myself. Experiment with your own homegrown varieties and see what flavors you like best.
The same thing goes with the cheese! There are so many beautiful cheeses out there that go splendidly with tomatoes. It’s really up to you on what you choose to incorporate into your masterpiece. The main thing to keep in mind is the water content. For example, Burrata and Buffalo Mozzarella are some of my most favorite pairings with tomato and basil, but their soft texture and their high moisture content would make them poor choices for this pie. Select cheese that will not add to the moisture content of the pie.
In this recipe, I recommend low-moisture Mozzarella, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses.
The secret to a good tomato pie: Get rid of the water! Tomatoes are approximately 95% water! When you turn up the heat, the flesh of the tomato breaks down and the water is released. Which is wonderful when you’re making tomato sauce. Unfortunately, for this pie, if you were to just slice your tomatoes and beautifully arrange them in the pan, you would have a soupy mess. So, before you bake your cheesy tomato goodness, you have to get the water out! Do so by squeezing or pressing your tomatoes after you’ve chopped them to extract as much of the juice that you can.
How to Serve It up?
So, what is this dish? Is it Southern or is it Italian? Is it Comfort food or is it trendy? Is it a side dish or is it a main course? It’s DELISH and it works across all tables and sections of the plate. Serve it up as a tasty pairing or as a lighter main course — its perfect for these hot summer days we’ve been having!
Keeping it Keto
We are ALWAYS adapting recipes for Keto at home, whenever possible. This is an EASY one to make Keto-friendly. Just omit the pie crust and continue with the recipe as follows!
- one 9-inch Pillsbury Pie Crust
- 4 to 6 medium red tomatoes, chopped (approximately 3 to 4 cups)
- kosher salt, as needed
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- one 2/3 oz. package basil, all leaves picked and chiffonade sliced
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise, as needed
- 1 teaspoon (or to taste) Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Remove your pie crust from the refrigerator and set it aside (in package). You should allow your crust to stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before beginning to work it into your pie pan.
- Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes. After you chop each tomato, add it to a sieve or a colander positioned over a bowl to catch any of the juice. Very lightly sprinkle the chopped tomato with some of the kosher salt. (This will season the tomato and help draw out some of the water.) Repeat with the next layer of chopped tomatoes until you have added them all to the sieve. Set aside and allow them to drain while you prep your other ingredients.
- Finely chop the onion. Mince the garlic. Chiffonade slice the basil by stacking the leaves (the biggest ones on the bottom/outside), rolling them up like a cigar, and slicing them into thin little slices. Grate the cheeses.
- Unroll the pie crust. Center the crust over the pan and gently press it down into your pan. Make sure the crust is pressed to the bottom edges all the way around where the sides of the pan meet the bottom of the pan. Do not worry about cutting off any of the excess dough at the top, as the crust will shrink down when it cooks. You can prick a few holes on the bottom of the dough using a fork to prevent bubbling, but it's usually not necessary for this pie. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is a light golden brown. Then, remove it from the oven and set it aside. NOTE: When the crust comes out of the oven, turn the oven down to 350 degrees F.
- While the crust is baking, in a skillet, caramelize the onions and the garlic with the teaspoon of olive oil. When the onions are a nice golden brown, remove them from the heat and set them aside.
- Transfer the chopped tomatoes into the center of a clean dish towel, cheesecloth, or several layers of paper towels. Holding the satchel of tomatoes over the drain bowl in the sink, gently squeeze the tomatoes (careful not to rip open the cloth) and remove as much of the liquid as you reasonably can.
- Assemble the pie. Layer the caramelized onions first and then the juiced tomatoes evenly in the baked pie shell. Sprinkle the sliced basil evenly over the top of the tomatoes.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the grated cheeses, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and the black pepper. Start with a 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise and continue stirring and adding more mayonnaise until the cheese mixture holds together.
- Plop the cheese mixture on top of the tomato layer and spread evenly from the center toward the outer edges of the pie using the back of a spoon.
- Bake the assembled pie for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until desired golden brown and doneness. When you remove the pie from the oven, allow it to cool for 5 minutes to let the cheese set a little before cutting into it. ENJOY!