for gardeners, tomatoes are the holy grail. every gardener you meet will have a favorite; hybrid or heirloom, red or yellow, sweet or classic flavored. the choices are abundant. in our garden, there are mostly heirlooms and they range in color from striped reds, purple and yellow. there are cherries and slicers of all sizes. at least that is what the tags promised. what the tags do not tell you is that if your summer is extremely hot and dry, you won’t be picking much and what is there, the squirrels will get before it ripens…and if you are as lucky as we are, you will also get a dose of fusarium wilt in the bed to really make it difficult.
getting off to a late start hasn’t helped much either. we had a cool and wet spring that caused us to put the plants in the bed later than we wanted but it also looks as if a couple of those hybrids we planted might make it and produce a few fruits for us. meanwhile, my tomato sandwich obsessed husband has had to satisfy his yen for white bread slathered with thick slabs of tomato and mayonnaise by purchasing tomatoes at the farmers market and i have had to cancel my plans to stand in the garden and stuff my face with cherry tomatoes still warm from the morning sun…
decent tomatoes can be had if you are willing to pay for them and pay you will! i found some kentucky heirloom tomatoes at my local supermarket for $4.99 per pound and while pricey, they had nice flavor and made it possible to bake this pie. this recipe isn’t totally original but i did make some changes to it to punch up the flavor.
a red and yellow striped heirloom tomato from the supermarket. it not only looked like it was home grown, it tasted like it too. a little sweet and not very acidic, these are one of the varieties that will have you cutting it into wedges and eating it as if it were a peach.
taking the time to caramelize the onions will add lots of flavor and so will the use of fresh herbs. we have a lot of basil, oregano and sage in the garden and they made a flavorful addition to the pie.
tomato pie with caramelized onions
and fontina cheese
1 (9″) pie shell-home made or purchased and partially baked
2-3 large or 3-4 medium sized ripe tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat (or olive oil)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/3 cup fresh herbs-measure them first then chop them
salt & fresh cracked pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup freshly grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
preheat the oven to 300 and prebake the pie shell using the instructions to pie #29
but do not bake it completely since it will be returning to the oven(partially baking the pie shell-it should just barely have color and the bottom crust will no longer appear shiny when you lift out the weights). turn the oven up to 350. cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out as much of the juice and seeds as you can. dice them into bite size pieces, place them in a strainer which is set over a bowl and place a weight on the tomatoes-you want to remove the juice without pureeing the tomatoes so do not use a heavy weight, just one that causes enough pressure to remove the juice. while the tomatoes drain, heat the bacon fat in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions. as they begin to color, stir them to allow even caramelizing. add the garlic and the herbs once the onions have caramelized and saute them for a minute or two. remove the onion mixture from the heat and place it in a mixing bowl. measure out 3 cups of tomatoes and add them to the onions. toss them to combine them, season with the salt and pepper and then scrape the filling into the partially baked pie shell. in a clean bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the cheeses to form a thick topping. carefully spread the topping over the surface of the filling. bake until golden brown on top, about 45-50 minutes.
and as always, if you bake one, photograph it and send it to me, i will post it here! firstname.lastname@example.org.