Tomato Pie

Among the glorious tastes of tomato season is tomato pie. Vivian’s version combines roasted and fresh tomatoes. It’s no wonder this recipe is a bestseller throughout the summer at Chef & the Farmer.

"This recipe has a couple of steps but man, it is worth it. The vegetarians in your life will thank you, and your carnivore friends will never miss the meat. I know it will be nearly impossible, but try to let the pie cool to just over room temperature. I think this is when it really shines."  
– Vivian Howard

From “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South,” by Vivian Howard (Little Brown, 2016).

Pie Crust:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons ice-cold water
½ teaspoon vinegar

Filling and topping:
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, halved and cut into julienne with the grain
2 teaspoons salt, divided
3 ½ pounds tomatoes, cut into ½-inch dice, divided
1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon picked thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 turns of the pepper mill or ½ teaspoon black pepper
⅓ cup picked basil leaves
½ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup grated Fontina
⅓ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Make the 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. Then begin adding the butter one cube at a time. Continue until the flour is speckled and crumbly. With the mixer still running, add the water and vinegar until just combined. Do not overmix. Lay roughly a 10x10-inch square of plastic wrap on the counter in front of you and turn the dough out onto it. Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Bring the crust to room temperature. Dust your counter and rolling pin lightly with flour and roll the crust slightly larger than your pie pan. Lay the crust in the pan and press gently into its edges. Cut off the edges that hang over and discard. Freeze the crust in the pie pan for at least 15 minutes or until you’re ready to blind-bake.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay foil or parchment paper on top of the crust and weigh that down with dried beans or rice. Blind-bake for 30 minutes.

Make the filling and topping: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saute pan or skillet, melt the butter and add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the onions over medium-low heat till they are deeply caramelized. This will take about 40 minutes. If your onions get away from you and burn a little, add ¼ cup of water to the pan, scrape up the overbrowned bits, and keep going, In the end, you’ll have a scant ⅓ cup caramelized onions.

Toss half the tomatoes with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon sugar. Set them over a colander and let them drain while you get everything else ready, at least 30 minutes.

Toss the remaining tomatoes with ½ teaspoon salt, the thyme, and the olive oil. Spread them out 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 20 to 30 minutes. You’re looking for the tomatoes to dry out and brown slightly.

Once all the individual components are done, stir together the onions, the fresh tomatoes, the roasted tomatoes, the remaining salt and sugar, black pepper and basil. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, Fontina, and Parm.

Spoon the filling into your blind-baked crust and crown it with mayo-and-cheese topping. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 30 minutes. You can serve this warm or at room temperature. Both have their virtues.

Makes a 10-inch pie.