In the American South is a popular dish known as “Tomato Pie”. Neither my husband nor I had ever heard of this before living here. But lately I’ve seen it featured in Southern Living and on some of the food shows that I’ve been watching while laid up on the recliner healing my back. We were really grateful for the kindness extended to us from our friends who are native Southerners when they baked one of these pies to give us this week . . . and that would certainly give my husband a night off from cooking while I’m on the mend from surgery.
From the Northeastern region of the States, I found that there is a thick pizza-focaccia bread based tomato pie that I’d like to make later on. From the photos, it looks like a thick pizza with an equally thick layer of tomato sauce on top (not sliced tomatoes) and nothing else. Already I could see a difference in the sub-cultural interpretation of tomato pie!
Meanwhile within the pages of one of my Italian cookbooks, “Vegetables From An Italian Garden”, I found a photo and recipe for a ‘rustic’ tomato pie. It doesn’t look like a pie at all, but since that’s what the title stated I set out to try it.
This recipe did not fail my expectations; even my husband ate a whole ‘slice’!
bake in the oven until golden brown
Rustic Italian Tomato Pie
(adapted from “Vegetables From An Italian Garden”)
butter for greasing pan
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 scallions/green onions, finely chopped
12 thin slices good quality Italian whole wheat bread, crusts removed (I left them on)
4 – 5 fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
2 jumbo eggs (I doubled this from 1 egg)
1 1/3 cups whole milk (I doubled this from 2/3 cup milk)
8 oz. pecorino cheese, sliced very thin
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread butter all over a baking sheet with sides.
Heat olive oil in a small pan, add the scallions/green onions and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
Lightly season with salt.
Remove from heat.
Cover the bottom of the buttered pan with half of the bread.
Spoon the scallions/green onions on top of bread.
Place tomato slices on top.
Sprinkle with dried oregano and dried basil.
Cover with remaining bread slices.
Beat eggs with the milk in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture over the bread.
Cover with pecorino cheese slices.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown.
Do not burn the bread though.
Let cool slightly and then serve on a nice serving dish.
And now here’s the recipe for the traditional Southern Tomato Pie
Southern Tomato Pie
1 pre-made pie crust
1 large sweet onion, diced
5 – 6 very fresh, preferably farmer’s market or garden-fresh tomatoes, sliced
(Tip: Slice tomatoes in half first and squeeze out excess juice before slicing to reduce water in the pie)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup sliced fresh Monterey Jack cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place pie crust in pie plate.
Arrange onions in the bottom of the pie in a circular formation.
Then arrange sliced tomatoes, around in a circle, and some in the middle.
Add salt and pepper.
Combine mayonnaise, cheddar cheese and dried Italian seasonings in a small bowl.
Mix well and spoon over tomatoes, leaving about 1 inch gap in between mayo and the edge of the pie so you can still see the tomatoes.
Place sliced cheese on top of mayonnaise layer.
Bake for about 30 minutes, at 350 degrees, or until cheese is golden.