Thursday, January 3, 2013

Roasted Tomato Pie, the Winter Version of a Southern Summer Favorite

You may have read my previous post about the Tomato Pie recipe which I prepared for Paula Dean. In that post I gave an anecdotal account of how my recipe was used by the Chef for Great Performances Catering, in New york City, as the recipe for the Paula Dean Brunch during the New York Wine and Food Festival. It was to this day a favorite of the chef who has referenced a number of times how much he enjoyed the pie recipe.

Now tomato pie is really a summer dish. It's a pie to be made when sun kissed ripe tomatoes give off a luscious smell when sliced open and prepped for cooking or for eating. It's in that time of year that you should really enjoy tomatoes. Not when the winter hothouse tomatoes are in the market!

However I have discovered a way to make tomato pie in the winter and have it taste almost as good as it does in the summer, well almost. Different but good let's leave it at that.

My discovery for this dish came about in an unusual way. I was purusing my cookbooks one day for ideas for dinner and I came across a recipe by Ina Garten for a winter version of tomato and mozzarella caprese salad which was made with roasted tomatoes instead of fresh. She slow oven roasted winter hothouse Roma plum tomatoes until they were soft and delicious and then made the salad with them instead of using fresh hothouse tomatoes. Her point in all of this is that hothouse tomaotes have such little flavor that making a caprese salad was just silly and tasteless. It seemed a good idea because roasting the tomaotes brought out so much flavor.

So I seized upon this concept and immediately thought I could try the same thing with a classic southern recipe "tomato pie" and check out the results. Well, it worked out beautifully. While in the summer this pie has a fresh red tomato look and a fresh tomato taste the winter version was deeper in both color and flavor and the texture was somewhat more dense and creamy. I also added some egg and cheddar custard to it to try and make up for the loosey goosey nature of the already cooked tomatoes. So it had a bit of a quiche/tart consistency. I also made it in a high walled spring form pan and made the side a little higher on purpose to support the filling. The basil and the green peppers gave it that tomato pie flavor profile but it really had more of a tart consistency which was not bad at all. All in all a success. Give this a try this winter as the days are short and you are dreaming of long evenings on the roof or the backyard patio. Enjoy ya'll!!

Winter Tomato Pie with Roasted Tomatoes and Savory Cheddar Custard

6 Roma Plum tomatoes from the grocery store (winter/hothouse) cut in half.
1 bell pepper diced
1 medium white or yellow onion diced
2 cups sharp white grated cheddar cheese divided
10 fresh basil leaves cut into ribbons ( chiffonade)
6 eggs beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

For the crust:

1 1/4 cups flour
5 oz cream cheese
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

place in food processor and pulse till meally
remove and roll together
press into a small springmold pan with the crust going up the sides evenly around
Place in the freezer for 15 mins
Bake in 350 degree oven till lightly browned about 20 mins remove and cool

For the tomatoes:

Place cut tomatoes on a baking sheet and salt, bake in a low oven 250 degrees till soft and browned and roasted, this will take a bit, then cool.

For custard:

Mix all above ingredients except for the tomatoes and 1 cup of the cheese
Beat the eggs and cream then add the other ingredients
Layer the tomatoes in two overlapping layers in the crust
Pour custard mixture over the tomatoes filling the shell
Sprinkle the extra cheese on the top
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 35 to 40 mins or until the custard is set
Let cool 15 mins before slicing and serving Enjoy!


  1. What goes well to serve with this pie?

    1. Sarah,
      Actually a nice green salad or a Kale salad would go very nicely with this pie. You'd want a nice vinegar based dressing since the pie is rich.
      You might also serve biscuits or rolls with it as well and lots of good butter. Thanks for reading! Let me know how it comes out for you if you make it!