I love the flavor of a fresh, vine ripened, home grown tomato! Nothing else compares to that juicy taste. I am a regular at the Monday morning Farmers Market at our library. It’s not too big but has lots of choices for fresh, summer vegetables, along with a few other surprises.
Right now I’m so into tomatoes. Pardon me while I sound like Bubba in the movie Forrest Gump. You can feast on BLTs, tomato soup, tomato salsa and relishes, tomato toast with bacon, panzanella salad, peach and tomato gazpacho, caprese salad, tomato toast, pasta with bursting cherry tomatoes, grilled bread with ricotta and tomatoes, tomato and burrata salad, and the southern stand by, tomato pie.
So Many Options
Heirloom tomatoes are the rage right now. An heirloom tomato is a variety that has been passed down through several generations of a family because of its valued characteristics. Cherokee purple is one of my favorites. I also enjoy the bright lemon yellow tomatoes because of their lower acid. I don’t remember all of the varieties that are out there, but check the heirloom tomato stand at the market or chat with the grower about what kinds they offer. Even the standard tomatoes are full of flavor and goodness.
Cherry tomatoes also have all kinds of varieties and colors. Toss them in a salad or make a sauce for pasta and you have the makings of a perfect summer meal.
Tomato Pie, Yum!
Let’s talk about the humble but oh so amazing tomato pie. The recipe is simple but the results are anything but humble. You can make your own pie crust or purchase the refrigerated kind at the grocery store. I use about 3 large tomatoes and dry them out in the oven while I prebake the pie crust. Drying tomatoes before using them in the pie will help reduce the water content and make a less soggy pie, as well as intensifying their flavor. If you don’t want to dry them in the oven, slice tomatoes about a ¼ inch thick, lay them on a couple of sheets of paper towels and let them sit for about 30 minutes. If you decide to salt them at this point, use only a ¼ teaspoon of salt.
When your pie crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle a thin layer of cheese onto the bottom. It’s another trick to help prevent a soggy pie. You can use a combination of cheeses but cheddar is the gold standard.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat add about 1 cup chopped onion (I prefer Vidalia onions) and 1 Tablespoon butter and cook until onions are translucent and let cool.
In a bowl, combine ½ cup mayonnaise, cooked onions, 1 ½ cup grated cheese, ¼ cup coarsely chopped herbs and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce. I made my pie last week with combination of cheddar and gruyere cheeses. For the herbs, I used fresh herbs from my patio garden – basil, rosemary, parsley and thyme. Either stay away from or go lightly with the Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheeses as they are salty. Blot your tomatoes with paper towels, then arrange them in pie shell. Spread the cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Be sure and cover your pie crust edges with foil or they will over brown. Let your pie cool to room temperature before slicing.
More Delicious Ideas
If you’re not the baking type, you can occasionally purchase a tomato pie from Pie Birds Pie at the Monday Farmers Market at the library. It is so good!
Check out the August 2019 issue of Food and Wine on Flipstr for another cool tomato pie idea with an Indian twist. I’ve also listed some tomato movies and some great tomato cookbooks that are available in our library.