Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cheesy Tomato Pie

Every year I grow tomatoes. I get very excited about my tomatoes. They are, in all honesty, about the easiest thing you can grow, so I am no great gardener, but the idea of being able to go outside, pick something, come inside and cook and eat it, makes me stupid happy.

This year, on top of the usual herbs and random flowers, I grew three different varieties of tomatoes: Pinks, Purples, and Yellow Gooseberries. Needless to say, I have given away a lot of tomatoes as well as eaten the heck out of them. I dread my next Dr. visit when he will fuss at me about my insanely high phosphorous levels, but he should know by now I have no restraint with the tomatoes this time of year.

For example:
Fried Green Tomatoes with little Tomato Feta Tortes
(Fast and easy on some WW tortillas!)

3-Tomato Mint Succotash with Fried Okra
(My neighbor grew the okra. Good neighbor!)

A LOT of Guacamole!
(That also includes the jalapenos and cilantro I grew!)

And other stuff that didn't quite make picture status like Tomato Quiche, omelets, wraps, fresh salsa with homemade Naan bread, pizza, tomato gravy with homemade biscuits, fried eggs and tomatoes on toast, eggplant Parmesan, ratatouille,..   I could go on and on. And considering I am pulling about 1/2 a bushel every other day off my measly 14 plants, I am sure that list will grow and grow.

When I knew I was about to be bombarded with tomatoes, I began looking up recipes. The idea of a tomato pie sounded SO good. PIE IS FANTASTIC in any form, but Tomato Pie sounded absolutely like I had to have it or die.

*SCREECHING OF BRAKES*

Absofrigginlutely every Tomato Pie recipe on the internet calls for the most disgusting ingredient known to man. That's right. Somebody somewhere thinks tomatoes would not be positively ruined by mixing mayonnaise into them!*

*I really hate mayo, if you didn't guess. The taste, the sight, the smell, the SOUND of mayo really disgusts me!

Anyway, I hate mayonnaise. And it's EVERYWHERE in The South like people's connective tissues are MADE out of the stuff, so when I come across it unexpectedly in a recipe I get a little bothered about it. You are thinking, if it is everywhere, shouldn't she be expecting it? And yes, maybe, but some things in life you have to block out of your consciousness or you would just lose it. Mayo is one of those things for me. And country music.

I have tried a lot of substitutes like tofu or sour cream or yogurt, etc. and for some reason I just keep tasting tofu, sour cream (which I also don't really care for but can take in small amounts mixed into things), or yogurt. Something MUST be done about this brick mayo wall so I can have Tomato Pie!

So, instead of mixing cheese with mayo, I have mixed cheese with cheese. I really can't understand why someone else didn't think of this first. Cheese ALWAYS goes with cheese.

I am going to tell you up front that I am not even going to pretend I make my own pie shells. I was forced to take 6 weeks of HS Home-Ec until they fixed my schedule and put me back in Art where I belonged, and we made pie shells. Possibly the entire 6 weeks because that's all I remember about it- that and the teacher hated me more than teachers usually hated me but probably because it was obvious that was the last place I wanted to be. Anyway... I do know HOW to make a pie shell- and HAVE in the past when I thought 'hey I want a pie and I don't have a shell and don't want to put my bra back on today', but if I can help it I will buy a frozen pie shell and not apologize for it. (This is not an apology.)

How about a recipe?

Tomato Pie
makes 1 pie

Ingredients:
Deep Dish Pie Shell
1+ lb of tomatoes
salt and pepper
4oz of cream cheese, softened
5oz of other cheese, shredded*
Handful of fresh Basil, chopped roughly
3ish Tsp of milk or other liquid

Collander, paper towels, knife and cutting board, mixing bowl, spoon... eh... kitchen stuff

*I used Pepper Jack and a bit of sharp cheddar this time, but last time I used Monterrey Jack and that was really good, too. Use whatever cheese you like!

How to:
About 2 hours or so before you want to start your pie, slice your tomatoes, layer them on paper towels in a collander and set it on a plate and cover with more paper towels. If you have cats, hide it all in the microwave or cabinet because cats want to curl up on the dumbest stuff. Just let them set and drain on their own some. If your tomatoes are very juicy, you may want to press them some and change out the paper towels or let the cat sleep on them... You just don't want them too drippy.

Go ahead and set out your cream cheese to soften, too.
Time to make a pie:
Put about 1oz of shredded cheese in the bottom of your pie crust. I first thought this would help reduce sogginess- and it might, but really it just makes the pie crust all that much better.

Mix the cream cheese, the rest of the cheese, the chopped basil and salt and pepper* to taste together. Add in a little milk to get it to stir and to a thick, but spreadable consistency.

Layer tomatoes on the bottom, spread with about 1/3 of cheese mixture, tomatoes, cheese mixture, tomatoes, cheese mixture. That's it!

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 1 hour or until the outer edge of the pie is no longer bubbly and liquid-looking. It's still going to be gooey and soft, so let it set about 15-20 minutes before slicing if you have any hopes of it staying together. Or if you don't care that it stays together, just dig right in!

Two notes:
1. Some people think salting the tomatoes while draining makes them drain more. I don't want to accidentally get too much salt, so I'd rather add mine to taste in the cheese mix.
2. My oven doesn't brown until I tell it to, so I don't worry about too-brown pie edges. You might, though, so hopefully you know the trick about wrapping the crusts with foil

This stuff is good cold or reheated either one and goes great with a salad!

Making two put a small dent in my tomatoes 

Layer upon layer of tomato and cheesy deliciousness

I can't tell you how disappointed in myself I was that I failed to get a picture before the final slathering. I had arranged the yellows in the middle with alternating pinks and purple around the outside. *sigh* It was pretty.



Mmmmmmmm about sums it up!

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