Tomato Pie


You can't read that word without smiling, right? 

Cakes are gorgeous and cookies are tasty portable treats, but pie? Can we please have a moment of respectful silence for pie? [Insert silence for pie here.] Buttery dough baked until crisp and flaky, filled to bursting with tart fruits or a sweet, custardy filling. You can dress it up with a dollop of whipped cream or eat it with a spoon via a melty a la mode. I mean, really -- is it not the perfect dessert? And not just dessert. Don't get me started on chicken pot pie. I've had grown men beg for a taste of mine. And there's shepherd's pie, meat pie, vegetable pie, even quiche can count as pie. Savory pies are magical -- it's like having dessert for dinner and still getting to have dessert afterwards, too. Plus, you can't really match the lovely, homey smell of a pie baking in the oven. Mmmmmm.

I was at a loss for something to make for dinner (I'm behind on my grocery restocking) and started searching for a dish that would utilize what I did have left in the kitchen (besides kale). For some reason (blame it on all of the Moroccan cooking), I had a ton of tomatoes. Luckily, I stumbled upon this piece by the wonderful Ruth Reichl and decided that "James Beard's Tomato Pie" would be perfect. It sounded like just the thing to make a cold March day feel like a warm, breezy day in June. And it is. One bite and you think maybe, just maybe you can make it through the winter. 
James Beard's Tomato Pie 
via Ruth Reichl, slightly adapted by Gourmess
1 batch biscuit mix
1-2 tsp dried Italian Herb seasoning mix (optional)
4-6 large tomatoes or 1-2 pkg Campari tomatoes, seeded and sliced thick
2 TBS finely chopped fresh parsley or basil
1 heaping cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise 
Note: Ruth's recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of mayo, but I've found it is just as tasty and less soupy with 1/2 cup less of the mayo, so have adjusted accordingly. Also, going forward, I will seed the tomatoes to reduce extra liquid, and so I've adjusted the recipe for that as well. Just ignore my pictures with non-seeded tomatoes below. (Live and learn.)

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Make your own buttermilk biscuit dough (Ruth gives a great recipe for buttermilk biscuits in her piece) or use any packaged biscuit mix or even the pre-made dough in your freezer case. If you make your own dough or use a mix (I used Bisquick Complete Buttermilk Biscuit mix), fold in the dried herbs. If the dough is already made, you can skip.
  • Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray, then press the biscuit dough into the bottom and sides.
  • Slice/seed the tomatoes, sprinkle lightly with salt, and let rest in a colander for 5-10 minutes to get rid of excess liquid, then cover the biscuit dough with the sliced tomatoes. (In the summer, I will use huge, fat ripe tomatoes. This time around, I used Campari tomatoes which I think are the most flavorful of winter options. They are smaller, but worked in a pinch.)
  • Sprinkle the layered tomatoes with a bit more salt, cracked pepper, and the chopped parsley. (Basil would be perfect -- I didn't have any, so I used parsley and it was still delicious.) 
  • Mix together the cheese and mayo, and any parsley/basil you may have left over (optional), and spread over the tomatoes.

  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes until biscuit dough is firm and the topping is browned/bubbly. Let cool for about 10 minutes if you can stand it, and serve.

Not quite.


Chris said he thinks tomato pie would be a perfect for brunch served with a warm spinach and bacon salad. (It's ideas like that, that make me say, "Yep. He's my soul mate.")  

I'm going to add this pie to my repertoire for sure, and play around with it now that I have the general idea of the proportions, baking time, etc. How about a drizzle of balsamic vinegar before serving? Would it be tasty with shredded cheese mixed into the dough? Or, what if I used 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup goat cheese or cream cheese, or even crème fraîche? Chopped bacon might be good mixed into the mayo topping, too (BLT, anyone?), or how about smoked cheddar or even mozzarella? What if I used sun dried tomatoes and stirred feta into the mayo? So many ideas! Of course, there's something to be said for leaving a great, classic recipe the way it is. But, this could be fun....

Please make this pie. It's fantastic now, but by the time summer rolls around, you'll be able to use big fat tomatoes still warm from the garden and it will change everything. I bet this pie will become your go-to dish for parties, potluck, and more. It's that good, and a breeze to make (but don't tell anyone). You're going to love it.

Sunny, warm days will be here soon, folks. 
We just have to hang in a bit longer. After all, there's pie to get us through. 

P.S. Looking for more pie? Try one of these tasty treats: Venison Pie, Shepherd's Pie, Peanut Butter Pie, Apple-Pear-Cranberry Pie with Pecan Crumble, and Apple Pie Cookies.