Friday Pie-Day {Tomato and Cheddar}

Hold the phone.  Stop the presses.  Sound the alarm.  Tomato Cheddar Pie has entered the building, and you are going to want a bite.  This tasty business is too good not to shout its praises from the rooftops.  Yes, I realize we’re just talking about pie, but holy cow…who can resist layers of mouth-watering tomatoes, gooey melted cheesy, and a tangy savory sauce all wrapped up in a buttermilk biscuit crust?

Is your mouth watering yet?  I’m talking about one of the best things I’ve cooked all year, my new favorite recipe, and I can’t make it again soon enough.  Hold onto your hats, folks, we have a winner.

I hope you’re OK with me throwing in a savory curve ball in our Summer of Pies line up.  I know so far we’ve kept the Friday Pie-Day offerings to the typical sweet varieties, but when I saw the recipe for Tomato Cheddar Pie in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit, I made the executive decision to bring it up to the big leagues and give some other poor pie the boot.  I think you will agree that I made the right choice.

These are the ingredients for Tomato Cheddar Pie.

It goes without saying that the better quality tomatoes you start with, the better quality Tomato Cheddar Pie you will end up with.  The best option would be hand-picked, home-grown, vine-ripened tomatoes from Paw Paw’s garden.  Second best would be locally-grown, vine-ripened tomatoes from a farmer’s market.  Next down in quality would be some sort of heirloom variety from a specialty food store like Central Market or Whole Foods.  Or you could scrape the bottom of the barrel and buy barely-passable, mass-produced, hot house tomatoes at Target.  Of no choosing of my own, I sadly had to go with the last option this week.  But, good news.  My results were so spectacular with such sub-par produce, I can only imagine how vastly improved this pie would be if I actually used farm-fresh tomatoes.  I hope my results communicates this pie’s deliciousness quotient, even if you don’t garden.

The first step in making the crust {yes, you have to make the crust…there’s no way around it for this one} is to combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Then add the cold cubed butter.

Using your hands, work the flour into the butter by rubbing the butter between your fingers.  Slowly the bits of butter will get worked into the flour and it will look like crumbly meal.

Add the buttermilk and prepare to get messy.

Using your hands, blend in the buttermilk to the flour mixture until it looks something like this…

You are not going to end up with a pretty dough.  This mixture is more like biscuit batter, and good biscuits are messy to make.  Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, form it into a disk as best you can, cover it, and refrigerate for one hour.  While it’s chilling and resting, move on to the tomatoes.

Line a baking sheet {I ended up needing two} with a double layer of paper towels.

Core the tomatoes.

And slice them into 1/4-inch slices.  If your knives are less than razor sharp, using a serrated knife will be your best option.

Lay the tomato slices in a single layer on the baking sheets.  Cover with another double-layer of paper towels, and let them drain for 30 minutes {or until the crust is finished chilling and you are ready to assemble the pie}.  Why drain the tomatoes?  Well, as you may know, tomatoes have a very high water content.  If you made this pie without draining the tomatoes it would be soggy {remember my peach pie fiasco?}.  Plus, after all that excess moisture has been removed, all the essence of tomato flavor is free to shine without getting bogged down in tomato-flavored water.  Now move on to the sauce…

In a small bowl, mix together the scallion, dill, mayonaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Cover the sauce until you are ready to assemble the pie.

The last prep step is to combine the cheddar and Parmesan in a small bowl.

Once the cheeses are combined, set aside 1/4 cup.

Isn’t this a cute pie dish?  Typically I use Pyrex glass pie dishes for baking pies.  But this pie seemed to require something a bit more special, so I pulled out my cute little purple duck ceramic pie dish and filled her with layers of yummy.

Please learn from my mistakes.  The recipe said to dump the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, cover it with another piece of plastic wrap, roll it out, then remove the plastic wrap.  This failed miserably, and I almost lost the crust completly.  But disaster was averted, and I was able to salvage the scraps and start over.  I found it easier to roll the crust out on a very well-floured cutting board {or countertop}.  Once it is rolled out, carefully transfer it to the pie dish.  You’re going to see in a few steps that it doesn’t need to look pretty.

Sprinkle the crust with cornmeal, and then let the layering begin.

One-half cup of cheese.

One-third of the tomato slices.  A quick note.  If you can get your hand on some fleur de sal {that’s French for “sea salt”}, sprinkle a little bit on each tomato layer.  It enhances their flavor tremendously.

Half of the sauce.

One cup of cheese.

Second third of tomatoes {or, half of the remaining slices}.

Second half of sauce.

Last cup of cheese.

Last third of tomatoes.

Top it off with the 1/4-cup of cheese that you set aside in the beginning.

Now, fold the overhanging crust up and over the tomato layers, folding and pressing to seal.  Bake at 400 for 35 to 40 minutes.  You should check the crust after 20 minutes to see if it is browning too quickly.  I had to cover the edges of my pie with foil to prevent it from burning while the filling continued to bake.  Worth it.

Tomato.  Cheddar.  Pie.

Don’t get mad at me, but you have to let the pie cool for at least one hour {but it can wait to be served up to three hours}.  Just plan accordingly, and walk away knowing tomato pie magic is happening while you wait.

After an hour {or three}, slice yourself a nice wedge and prepare to be over the moon for how delicious this pie is going to taste.  Are you feeling especially edgy like I was when I made this for dinner?  Then you might want to take this pie to the next level…

…and top it with a fried egg.  Oh yes I did.  I really can’t recommend this combo highly enough.  The egg and buttermilk biscuit crust is reminiscent of a diner breakfast, but the tomato-cheese-dill filling is a gourmet-worthy.  The two together is heaven on a plate.

Try this one and let me know what you think…

{Tomato Cheddar Pie}

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3 Responses to Friday Pie-Day {Tomato and Cheddar}

  1. Rachelle says:

    Trying this as a fritata with the egg right in. We’ll see in about fifteen min.

  2. Sarah says:

    You blow my mind–FRIED EGG??? Unfortunately, you’ll have to invite me over for this one, as I’m the only one who eats tomatoes in this house.

  3. Brittany says:

    Yum! Looks great! And I agree, Paw-Paw’s tomatoes are the best. :)

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