Farmers’ markets are a feast for the senses. They are filled with street musicians strumming songs, families and couples chatting with farmers and buying groceries, platters of farm fresh samples being offered with a smile, and flowers and fruits to see and smell. Goodness and community abounds at these markets. As a food lover, I’m lucky to live in the Bay Area. Here in the home of Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, there are farmers’ markets with mostly organic produce that I could attend almost any day of the week. I have my favorites though, and the Tuesday evening Ecology Center Market in South Berkeley is near the top of that list.
As I was strolling the market last week I noticed that tomatoes are finally coming in. The Bay Area is often overcast and moderate in temperature so our tomatoes take an eternity to ripen. When they do, it’s sort of cause for celebration, and what better way to celebrate than with a tomato pie?
My sister introduced me to the idea of a tomato pie a few years back and ever since that fateful summer I have made at least one tomato pie every summer. It’s a simple dish that falls somewhere in between a Quiche and a caprese salad and it never fails to delight.
Making this pie requires around 2 large heirloom tomatoes (I have more here because I was also making Insalata Caprese), fresh basil, a pie crust, a little light cream cheese, and some shredded italian cheese. You’ll be needing some salt and pepper too. If you want to make a homemade pie crust check out this 1 minute pie dough tutorial, it looks so quick and easy!
The first step is to core, slice, and de-seed the tomatos. Cut out the green stem, slice the tomatoes, and remove the seeds with your fingers as you go. It’s really important to remove as many seeds and as much juice as you can from the tomatoes so that you can avoid having a super soggy pie.
When you’ve got all your slices, put them in a colander in the sink and sprinkle them with some salt. Allow them to sit for a good 10 minutes, the salt helps draw out even more of the juice. This is a great time to prebake your pie shell.
Chop up about a 1/2 a cup of basil leaves. If you want to get all fancy pants, roll your leaves before cutting them into a chiffonade (aka, ribbony bits of basil).
Now mix up about 3 ounces of room temperature (light) cream cheese, with about 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese. You can use mayo in place of the cream cheese, but I like the flavor of the cream cheese here. Throw in some black pepper if you want. This is going to be the topping for your amazing pie.
It’s time to revisit those tomatoes. If they are still looking a little juicy you can take clean tea towel and gently press down on them while in the colander. De-juice them suckers!
Layer all of the tomato slices with the basil in you prebaked pie crust (note that I forgot to prebake the pie crust here. Ooops! Mushy bottom. Oh well.)
Now pile on your cheesy topping and pop that sucker in the oven! I like to let mine bake for about 40 minutes at 425. If the crust or topping starts to get too brown, cover it with some tin foil.
When you pull this little bit o’heaven out of the oven resist the urge to dive into its molten hot deliciousness. The roof of your mouth will thank you, I promise. Wait about 10 minutes before slicing into it. Enjoy your tomato pie with a nice glass of wine, a green salad, or all on by itself.
Just be prepared to arm wrestle your dinning partners for the last slice!
- 1 pre-baked pie shell
- 2 giant heirloom tomatoes
- 3 oz. room temperature light cream cheese
- 1½ cups of shredded Italian cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Pre-bake your crust according to directions, and then heat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Core, slice, and de-seed tomatoes. Place them in a colander over the sink and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 10 mins to release juices.
- Meanwhile, chop basil into chiffonade.
- In a medium bowl mix soft cream cheese and shredded cheese until well combined.
- If tomatoes are still looking juicy, gently press a clean towel over them to squeeze out more liquid.
- Layer tomatoes, pepper, and basil in the pie crust.
- Top with cheesy mixture.
- Bake for 40 minutes. If cheese or crust start to get too brown, cover with tinfoil.
- Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and enjoy!