“I couldn’t tell you when I started making tomato pie. It’s not something someone taught me how to make. I am pretty sure its evolution took place during my years in the South but its origins, I claim them to be instinctual. It’s a marriage of my deep love of quiche (and everything French) married to the revelry of tomatoes in southern summers. I am not saying this is some invention of my own, but this is dish I could make blindfolded at 2am in a cave. I just make it.
Tomato Pie also takes me to a very fond cooking memory. Early in my career I was asked to make 12 tomato pies for a chef I was working for. He needed them for an event the following day. I was asked on a Saturday night, a very busy Saturday night when I was working a very busy station. Needless to say, the tomato pies had to be made after service. My nearest and dearest line cooking partner in crime, Ben, was also tasked with making Chicken Bog for said event. Our prep started around 11:30 pm. The restaurant closed down, the kitchen was empty except for the two of us. We cooked, talked, took a few nips of Pappy Van Winkle from the bar. It was perfect. I couldn’t tell you when I started making this pie, but I can tell you that it’s magical. I hope this recipe brings you as much happiness as I have had making it.” – Chef Whitney Otawka
Yields 1 Pie, 8 slices
1½ cups All-Purpose Flour
¾ teaspoon Sugar
¾ teaspoon Kosher Salt
1½ sticks Butter, diced and very cold
4½ tablespoons Water, very cold
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Mix together to incorporate. Add in the butter and use your fingers to mix into flour mixture until it feels coarse and pebbly. Add in water and mix until all ingredients just beginning to become incorporated. Roll the dough into a ball shape and lightly flatten. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. On a floured work surface roll out dough into a circle until it is uniformly around 1/8 inch thick. Line the pie pan with the dough and trim away the excess edge. Place into freezer for 15 minutes to chill well before blind baking. Line chilled dough with a circle of parchment paper that is 12 inches in diameter. Fill with whatever weights you have, such as beans or rice. Bake the piecrust for about 20 minutes. You want the edges of the pie to be a light golden brown when you remove it from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes at room temperature, and then remove the parchment paper and weights. The pie shell is ready to filled and baked at this point. It can be made a day ahead, just wrap well and store in the refrigerator.
2 Heirloom Tomatoes, medium sized
¼ cup Olive Oil
1½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
1½ cups Sharp White Cheddar (Cabot is a good starting point), shredded
4 Egg Yolks
½ cup Heavy Cream
¼ teaspoon Dried Harrisa
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon Parsley
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Slice the heirloom tomatoes to around ¼ inch thick. Lightly oil a sheet pan with olive oil. Lay tomato slices on oiled pan in a single layer. Use a ½ teaspoon of salt to season the tomatoes. Roast for 40 minutes. Set aside.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. In a bowl whisk together egg yolks, eggs, heavy cream, and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk well, until slightly frothy.
To assemble pie, layer 1 cup of shredded white cheddar into the pie shell. Add in a single layer of roasted heirloom tomatoes, around half of the tomatoes. Next, add remaining ½ cup of shredded white cheddar. Top with remaining roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle dried harissa over the top tomato layer. Pour egg and cream mixture over the tomato and cheese filling. Top with parmesan and parsley. Bake for 45-55 minutes. The pie filling should be set and the top, golden brown. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
* The pie dough recipe was taken from the cookbook Summerland by Anne Quatrano. Her book is a look at seasonal cooking in the Southern United States and a glimpse of her creative genius. Her cooking is incredibly inspiring and I highly recommend adding it to your library.
Follow along with more Tales from Chef Whitney Otawka’s kitchen by following her blog: www.whitneyotawka.com.