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Southern Tomato PieI wish I could hand you a slice of this savory southern tomato pie to enjoy while you read this post. The flaky crust encases thick slices of tomatoes, layers of chopped basil leaves and green onions, and a cheesy topping made with freshly grated mozzarella and cheddar cheeses mixed with tangy mayo.It might sound like a strange dish if you haven’t tried it before, but Tomato pie is such a beloved dish in the South that it shows up on many lists of foods that are iconic or well known from the Southern states, which is why Southern tomato pie is the first recipe representing Alabama in a new series I am calling American Eats where I plan to explore the USA through some of it’s most popular regional foods, one state and one plate at a time.
American Eats: Favorite Foods from the 50 StatesI have a bucket list goal that probably many of you have as well, or have at least thought about, to one day visit every state in the USA. I’m actually well on my way, since I was born in the Midwest (Nebraska), and have lived on both coasts (California and New Jersey), and in the South (Missouri), with moves to Idaho and Utah along the way and lots of roadtrips and other travel in between.The unique perspective that comes with having lived in these different areas of the country has really influenced my cooking in a lot of ways and I had this idea that I could share some of the most well-known, iconic foods from each of the 50 states as a way of exploring America from the comfort of my kitchen, even if I haven’t been able to travel there in person yet!The goal is to share 3-5 of the most popular foods that are beloved by each state, starting with Alabama and ending with Wyoming. America is a delicious country, and I will be making and baking my way through some of America’s favorite foods trying to knock off a couple of states each month.This is what America eats, and it’s going to take me a while to get through every state, but I’m super excited about this project and hope you will be excited to follow along and try some of these dishes too, even if they are new to you. First up: ALABAMA!
What is a Tomato Pie?One of the best parts about summer eating are the loads of fresh homegrown tomatoes that ripen on the vine and have almost a natural sweetness to them. They are so juicy and flavorful all on their own, and I’m always looking for ways to enjoy them at their best, like in a grilled caprese panini, but I think this tomato pie might be my new go-to recipe for those first amazing tomatoes of the summer!When I was researching the foods Alabama is known for, I kept coming across Tomato Pie. It’s actually made throughout much of the South (like many dishes, you will find that they cross state-borders and are attributed to more than one state), but it seems like Alabamans have a particular love of this dish. It’s a lot like a savory tart, except deep-dish style since a classic tomato pie is made in a pie pan.You could make an heirloom tomato pie using summer heirloom tomatoes, or just use Roma or Beefsteak tomatoes if that is what is growing in your garden. As long as they are fresh and flavorful, any variety of tomato will work.We served this delicious cheese and tomato pie as a side with grilled chicken for dinner, but it would be great as a light lunch served with a salad on the side.
How to Make a Southern Tomato Pie
- Use an unbaked pie crust to line a deep dish pie plate. You can make a pie crust from scratch or just use a store-bought one if that’s easier for you, then par-bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. to help prevent against a soggy crust bottom once the tomatoes are added to it.
- Slice the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with a little salt to draw out excess juices. After 10-15 minutes of draining on paper towel, blot the tomato slices with more paper towel to remove additional moisture, then they are ready to go into the pie without creating a puddle of water at the bottom that would result in a soggy crust.
- Alternate layers of sliced tomatoes with a mixture of chopped green onions, fresh basil leaves, and a little garlic. Some recipes call for bacon or other herbs besides basil, but I think this simple, classic approach is perfectly delicious.
- Top with a mixture of shredded cheese and mayo. Really, you could use just about any cheese – fontina, gruyere, or colby jack would all be good – but I stuck with half mozzarella and sharp cheddar.
- Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. The cheese will get all melted and start to brown on top and the crust edges should turn golden brown so you know it is done.
Looking for more tomato recipes? Here are some other great ways to use fresh, summer-ripe tomatoes:
- Tomato Basil Bruschetta
- Fresh Tomato and Burrata Salad
- Summer Tomato Pasta
- Four Cheese Pizza with Tomato Basil Arugula Salad
- 1 unbaked pie crust
- 4-5 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Slice the tomatoes and lay on the paper towels in a single layer, then sprinkle with the salt to draw out the tomato juices. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, then use fresh paper towels to pat-dry the tomatoes and remove move of the excess juice so the pie doesn't turn out soggy.
- Roll out pie crust and use it to line a pie plate. Crimp the edges and poke holes in the bottom of the crust using the tines of a fork. Par-bake the crust for 10 minutes. Since this won't bake all the way before being filled, it shouldn't shrink too badly, so there is no need for pie weights in my experience.
- While the crust bakes, combine the basil, green onion, and garlic in a bowl and stir. In a separate bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
- When the pie crust has baked for 10 minutes, layer half of the tomatoes on the bottom of the crust, then sprinkle with half of the basil-onion mixture. Layer the remaining tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining basil-onion mixture. Spread the cheese mixture over the top of the pie.
- Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, then return the pie to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese begins to get lightly brown on top. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve warm.
Any tomatoes will work, but depending on the size you may need more or fewer tomatoes.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 284 Saturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 27mg Sodium: 553mg Carbohydrates: 11g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 2g Protein: 7g