Heirloom Tomato Pie With Black Pepper Crust

The Southern food brain trust (aka my aunts and mom) are tomato pie pros. For the uninitiated, tomato pie in the South means a buttery pie crust filled to the brim with ripe summer tomatoes and a shamelessly gooey dose of mayo and cheddar cheese. And summer in the South, to me, means time for tomato pie. Like so many idealized childhood foods, tomato pie tastes best when cooked by mom or the brain trust.

But when I have no other choice but to make it myself, this is the version I came up with. I spice up the crust with black pepper, lighten up the original 1 cup each of mayo and cheese, and add fontina for extra flavor. Call it gussied-up tomato pie.

Heirloom Tomato Pie With Black Pepper Parmesan Crust
serves 6

for the crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon fresh grated parmesan
2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
10 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/3 cup ice water

for the filling
5 heirloom tomatoes, sliced, salted and well drained*
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup fontina, grated
10-12 basil leaves, chopped
1 bunch of chives, chopped
salt and pepper

*To avoid a case of pie soggy bottom, the tomatoes need to drain on a metal rack for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, parmesan and black pepper in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture’s largest chunks are about pea sized. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the ice water through the feed tube until the dough starts to form a single ball.

Gather the dough together and place on the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Cover and shape into a small disc. Chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Remove dough from the fridge, and allow to sit on the counter for about 15 minutes. Flour your rolling surface, and gently roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Trim the edges and pinch into a decorative design. With a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the entire crust. Place a piece of parchment paper into the center of the pie dish with the edges gathered so as to not touch the edges of the crust. Place enough dried beans or pie weights onto the foil to just fill the bottom. Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes, remove paper and pie weights and allow to cool.

To assemble the pie, mix the mayonnaise, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Layer the tomato slices, basil and chives to the top of the cooled pie crust. Spread the cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle the fontina on top, and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese has completely melted. Allow the pie to cool slightly before cutting.

This recipe originally appeared in August 2010.

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