Less can be more…

September 14, 2014


set upYou know there are times when being competitive can be a hindrance and because I have a highly evolved sense of competitiveness I have learned that I have to be careful when I let loose with that  fatal flaw in my character.  It takes little to flip that switch from the easy-going WikiJan to the intense slightly wild-eyed win at almost all costs WikiJan.  I have learned to attempt to confine my “2nd place is 1st loser” outlook to a few places…the pistol/skeet range and cooking for the most part.

Well a few weeks ago I was texting with K.F.C. on what she would like for dinner that Sunday when they returned from being out of town.  I had not planned anything and thought I would let them choose for a change.  Little did I know she would push that competitive button. Tomato Pie she says…well that sounded interesting and something I had never made.  But has that ever stopped me before?  HA! Not even close! I didn’t even blink…I did think “Hmmm never made one of those but hey lets ride this horse and see where we end up.” So I informed K.F.C. that she had pushed that challenge button and I would take up her challenge!  So I spent most of the drive to the great and mighty Jungle Jim’s thinking how I would work this…tomatoes forward?  Spices forward with Tomatoes playing 2nd fiddle?  Did it need bulking up by some smokey meats?   How was I going to work the crust so it didn’t get water-logged? I decided to bang my way out of my more usual routine and restrict what I would do to just a handful of super fresh parts. I am usually the type that if 10 ingredients are good 20 will make it great…White Chili anyone? …I found it rather difficult to not go full bore, I would be grating a dusting of delicate curls of parm thinking “Ohhhhh it needs MORE MORE MORE…NO it doesn’t…” “that’s never going to be enough Thyme better up it…no don’t forget the Tomatoes are the star!” “Must. Add. More!”  You get the point….

So what was the big take away from doing this…I would say choose your  tomatoes carefully, the first go round I used these beautiful yellow & red heirloom tomatoes and while the flavor was good the second go round I used yellow heirloom and Campari which really upped the tomato flavor! This recipe is pretty straight forward so there is little need for lots of photos.  Now let’s get started…

~Tomato Pie~

2 1/2 pounds of Tomatoes thinly sliced

1 c Parm (finely grated-not the green can)

1/4-1/3 c Mayo

Couple Fresh sprigs each of Purple Lemon basil, Sweet basil, Thyme and Oregano

Kosher Salt

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 Purple Onion (thinly sliced)


1 1/4 Flour (I used a whole grain pastry flour)

1 stick frozen butter

1/2 c finely grated Parm

3-4 TB ice cold water

Few grinds fresh pepper

pinch of salt

preheat oven to 350

sliced and saltedThinly slice your tomatoes and spread in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels that have been sprinkled with salt, once they are all laid out then sprinkle the tops with salt as well. This is going to cause a fair amount of the liquid in the tomatoes to leach out…moisture you do not want in your pie as it will make your crust REAL soggy (BLEACK!)

crustWhile your tomatoes and salt are working their way with each other you will want to put your crust together. In a mixing bowl toss in your flour salt and a few grinds of pepper, add in your Parm and toss to coat with flour. Next grab your handy dandy grater and grate your frozen butter into the flour/parm -you have to work quick as you don’t want the butter to start getting warm as the key to a good crust is working with cold ingredients  Once you coat the butter with the flour sprinkle the ice water over the flour. OK  you do not want to over work the dough and you don’t want it to stick to your hands so don some gloves and using your finger tips swirl your fingers into the flour/water allowing to to start clumping together, keep on until you have almost all the four and water worked together  GENred tomatoesTLY form into a ball.  Roll out on a well dusted board and fit into your pie pan, blind bake your pie crust for 20 minutes and remove from  the oven.

Remove the leaves from both your basil types and chiffonade them, you can removed the leaves of the Oregano now if you would like or you can wait till you are layering.  As for the Thyme just strip the leaves and sprinkle as you build the pie.

Mix your mayo and 3/4 c of Parm together with a few grinds of pepper and set aside. Use remaining 1/4 c of parm in the layers.

Starting with tomatoes you are going to layer tomatoes with some of your fresh herbs, rings of onions and the lightest dusting yellow tomatoesof parm. Continue until either all your tomatoes are used or you run out of space in your pie crust. You can mound it up a bit as the tomatoes will cook down some.Once you have the layers completed then you will need your mayo/parm mixture for the topping.  The mixture will be a bit crumbly which will work to your this and thatadvantage because you will need to put bits of this mixture over the top of the pie. Just rub between your fingers as you spread it on the top.

Once you have your topping the way you like it then its into  the oven for about 30 minutes or until the mayo/parm crumbles brown. All that is left is to allow it to cool before gobbling it down.drool

I like serving with garlic bread and a strong dark green salad with little more than a few shavings of Parm a bit of fresh black pepper and a simple vinegar and oil dressing.

Now go play with your food!


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