Simple Art of Cooking: You Say ‘Tomato,’ I Say ‘Tomato Pie’

Colorful Organic Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes make great salsa—and pie! Photo credit: bhofack2/iStock/Thinkstock

Viewing the variety of heirloom tomatoes in their glorious colors gives me a thrill. Only at the height of the summer months do we get tomatoes that approach the ideal state of this prized fruit. Naturally ripened and locally grown—these are the keys to characteristic sweetness, aroma and high nutrition. From simple to sophisticated, here are two recipes for tomato dining pleasure.


Serves 4 to 5

1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 large yellow heirloom tomato, cut into large dice
1 large reddish green heirloom tomato, cut into large dice
2 just-ripe avocados, pit removed and diced
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed dry Greek oregano
1 tablespoon, or more as needed, fresh lime juice
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
lettuce leaf cups, optional
pitted kalamata or Nicoise olives, halved

1. Place sliced onions in a bowl and fill with cold water; let rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. This takes the edge off the onions’ bite. Drain and thoroughly dry. Return to mixing bowl with tomatoes, avocado, parsley, oregano and lime juice. Toss gently to mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be prepared up to an hour or two ahead.

2. When ready to serve place lettuce cups, if using, on 4 to 5 salad plates. Divide tomato mixture evenly into the lettuce cups. Garnish with olives and serve.

This scrumptious pie can be prepared in stages. The crust may be refrigerated, frozen or store bought. The cheese can be grated and the onion caramelized a day ahead. I promise it’s worth the effort!

Serves 6

To prepare a basic pâte brisée process 2 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and sugar in a food processor. Add 7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter with 2/3 cup grated Parmesan and process until mixture resembles tiny pebbles. Gradually add 7 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold water through the feed tube and process just to mix. Turn out dough onto lightly floured board and knead briefly with heel of hand, gather into a ball. Flatten dough to a round, cut a crisscross on surface and wrap securely in wax paper. Refrigerate for one hour, overnight or freeze ahead.

For the filling:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large red onion, diced
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
3/4 cup julienne of fresh basil leaves
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 3/4 – 2 pounds red and yellow heirloom tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Melt the butter in a skillet and when butter foam subsides, put in the onion. Sauté over medium heat about 3 minutes then cover skillet and continue to sauté over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes longer until onions are tender and translucent. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool. Add the cheese and herbs to the onion and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

2. Rinse and dry tomatoes, core and slice about 1/2-inch thick and set aside.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry dough to about 1/8 inch thick, then roll up on rolling pin. Lower the pastry into a 10-inch Pyrex pie plate and crimp edges to secure the dough. Poke holes in bottom of dough with a fork and brush edges of dough with cold water. Cover pastry with a square of foil, shiny side in, and fill with dry beans or metal weights. Bake in 250°F oven for 15 to 17 minutes.

4. Raise oven heat to 400°F. Remove crust from oven and remove paper and weights. Spread the onion mixture evenly along bottom of dough. Alternate the tomato slices, yellow, red etc. over the filling and sprinkle with additional thyme leaves. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to rest a few minutes and cut into wedges for serving.

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