Food & Dining

Late summer classic: Tomato pie

This is a Dijon tomato and sweet onion pie. Tomato pie is a classic Southern dish made in summer when the tomato plants are heavy with ripe fruit.
This is a Dijon tomato and sweet onion pie. Tomato pie is a classic Southern dish made in summer when the tomato plants are heavy with ripe fruit. Associated Press

Tomato pie is a classic southern dish made in late summer when the tomato plants are heavy with ripe fruit, but everyone has had their fill of tomato sandwiches and salads.

It is essentially a pie shell filled with fresh sliced tomatoes and sweet onions, topped with mixture of shredded cheese and served with a sprinkle of fresh basil. It's not fancy and generally not served in restaurants, but you can find it at potluck suppers, farmers markets, roadside stands and most every rural kitchen.

I love tomatoes so much that tomato pie is a no-brainer, but I wanted to take the traditional idea and make it a little more to my taste. I substituted a conventional pie crust for the more-traditional Bisquick version. You can use your favorite recipe, or buy prepared pie dough. I pre-bake the shell to take the raw flour flavor out of it and make the bottom crisp.

I also add a sweet Vidalia onion to the filling. I like to slice both the onion and the tomatoes instead of chopping them, but if you like smaller pieces in the filling, go ahead and chop. Many tomato pies don't have enough tomatoes in them, so I load up on them, choosing small tomatoes so my slices aren't any larger than three inches in diameter. If you don't have any garden tomatoes, I find that the dark purple Kumato tomatoes work great.

I reduce the amount of mayonnaise used in traditional recipes because I wanted a cheesier top. Most recipes call for 1 cup of mayo, but I halved that amount and only use as much as I need to bind the cheese. If you like a looser top, add more mayonnaise, but I think you'll like it my way, as the liquid from the tomatoes provides all the moisture you need.

The biggest change that I made was adding two kinds of mustard to the cheese topping. That one little change makes a huge difference. The mustard elevates the pie and creates a depth of flavor that takes this homegrown dish from simple to spectacular.

You need:



  • A 9-inch raw pie shell fitted in a pan.



  • One small Vidalia or other sweet onion.



  • Three to four small heirloom tomatoes.



  • One and a quarter cups grated sharp cheddar cheese.



  • One and a quarter cups grated Gruyere cheese.



  • Two-thirds of a cup mayonnaise.



  • One tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard.



  • One heaping teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard.



  • Ground black pepper.



  • One small bunch fresh basil (about 10 leaves), thinly sliced.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the pie shell until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

While the pie shell bakes, thinly slice the onion and tomatoes. Arrange the tomato slices on paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

In a medium bowl, mix together both cheeses, the mayonnaise, both mustards and a generous pinch of pepper. The mixture should be thick, but spread easily.

Spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture over the bottom of the pie shell. Top the mixture with half of the onion slices, then half of the tomato slices, followed by the remaining onions, then the remaining tomatoes. Spread the rest of the cheese mixture over the tomatoes. Bake until browned and bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into slices, then top each serving with some of the basil.

Start to finish: One hour (15 minutes active).

Servings: Six.

Nutrition information per serving: 470 calories; 300 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 33 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 15 g protein; 620 mg sodium.

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