A discussion of our mutual love of local heirloom tomatoes prompted Kimme Hargrove, an avid cook I met recently in Greenwood, Mississippi, to share with me her favorite recipe for tomato pie. Unlike other versions that are loaded with mayonnaise and other weighty ingredients, Kimme’s keeps the focus on the main ingredient. It’s a cinch to make, but be sure to drain the tomatoes of as much liquid as you can before baking, and allow it to set before cutting into it. Even if it is a little runny, though, it will still taste delicious!
Pie dough for 1 single-crust 9-inch pie
3 to 4 large fresh tomatoes
10 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (or substitute 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese for equal amount of the mozzarella)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus extra leaves for garnish
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough and press into a 9-inch pie plate; crimp edges.
2. Core and slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Place slices on paper towels to drain for about 30 minutes. Pat tomato slices dry.
3. Spread bottom of pastry with 1/3 of the shredded cheese and 1 tablespoon of the basil.
4. Cover cheese with half of the tomato slices as evenly as possible. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.
5. Add another 1/3 of the cheese mixture, another tablespoon of basil, and remaining tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with remaining cheese and 1 more tablespoon basil.
6. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. (Run under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the cheese a bit if you like.)
7. Remove from oven. Drizzle with a little olive oil, if desired, and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
8. Let stand for about 20-30 minutes to allow juices to set. Slice in wedges and serve warm. (It is also good refrigerated and reheated the next day.)
Makes 4–6 servings