What exactly is Southern tomato pie?

It’s exactly that.  A pie. With tomatoes. From the South. And who better for pie baking than the Southern States?  And who would’ve thought tomatoes in a pie crust could be so indulgent?  It’s not dessert.  It’s not sweet.  It’s not a quiche and it’s not a pizza. But whatever it is, YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE!

 

About this Recipe

Even after many years of visiting my in-laws in South Carolina, never once had I heard of tomato pie. My sister-in-law Jennifer, mentioned it in passing, and my ears perked up and my interest was piqued. I have to be honest though, the description had my virtual tastebuds confused when I heard the ingredients.  But Jennifer convinced me that this was something wonderful and amazing and I had to have it.

If Tomato Pie has crossed my path in California, I completely missed it.  Yet there it’s been, all along.  On restaurant menus, in cookbooks, and baked in homes all across the South.  A Google search and you see it everywhere.  It’s thought to have originated in the Carolinas long before Italian immigrants were making pizza in the U.S.  So it makes it a bonafide, honest-to-goodness, authentic Southern dish.

So of course, I’m going to mess with the recipe to create a hybrid Southern-West Coast version! I certainly can’t claim any Southern DNA, so it would be inauthentic to do otherwise.  I am a California Girl, born and raised. So here is my version of Southern Tomato Pie.  I hope that I’ve done my Sister-in-law a solid by creating something that she’d be proud to serve!

heirloom tomatoes green, purple, orange, red, and yellow

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust
  • 5-6 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • 1 and 1/2 cup grated extra-sharp cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan (or gruyére)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 green onions

I know my way around a kitchen, and I can really cook. But honestly don’t bake very well, so a premade pie crust will have to do.  For those of you who know your way around a homemade rolled-out, perfectly flaky, crisp golden-brown crust, I’m sure it would elevate the recipe to new levels.  And I bow down to you.  For me, however, I’m baking with the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Know your limits and work your strengths!

The extra sharp cheddar adds an intense cheddar flavor you want to offset the sweetness of the tomatoes.    Baking the parmesan with the crust gives you a similar taste to the classic flaky parmesan cheese straws.  Alternatively, using guyére will deliver a texture similar to a quiche-type crust.  Add bacon because.  Bacon.  no explanation necessary.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Heat oven to 450°. Slice the tomatoes, with skins, into thick 1/2″ slices. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, covered in parchment paper or use a rack, as pictured below. Lightly sprinkle with salt, and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes.  This step will help to remove some of the moisture so your pie crust isn’t mushy. Roasting also intensifies the tomato flavor. Using a rack to elevate the tomatoes will provide better airflow and even cooking, but isn’t necessary.

Step 2

With the oven already at 450°,  place crust in an ungreased 9″ glass pie pan, pressing firmly against side and bottom. Prick bottom and side with fork.  Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the crust with 1/4 cup of the shredded parmesan or gruyere. Bake for 10 minutes, or until light brown.  Set aside. (Time-saving trick – add the pie crust to the oven during the last 10 minutes of roasting the tomatoes and pull both out at the same time)

Step 3
  • Chop and pre-cook the bacon, drain, and set aside.
  • Finely chop the basil and green onion.  For a fancy Chiffonade cut and best basil storage technique here is a quick 1 minute video
Step 4

Grate and combine the remaining cheese with the mayonnaise. My favorite brand is Dukes and sadly, I can’t find it in California.  It’s seriously better than Best Foods, which is a high recommendation. I think the main difference is that there’s no sugar in the Dukes, and it tastes how I remember mayo tasting when I was a kid. So, I buy it here.  You’re welcome.  🙂

lStep 5

Now to layer the pie.  Place most of the roasted tomato slices on the bottom of the pie crust, overlapping.  Liberally sprinkle the tomatoes with the basil and green onion, (set a small amount aside to add to the finished product).  Add the bacon pieces. Spread the cheese and mayo mixture covering the tomatoes completely.  Add another layer of the remaining tomatoes on top.

Bake for 35 minutes at 350°.   Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle the last of the basil and green onions on top.  This pie can be served warm or cold.  For dinner or as a morning meal.  I prefer the warm, right out of the oven version.  But the leftovers for breakfast are delightful!

And now that you've read all about the pie... We have Photos!

ingredients for tomato pie
sliced heirloom tomatoes
roasting heirloom tomatoes
prepping pie crust for tomato pie with parmesan cheese
bacon for tomato pie
cheese and mayo mix for Southern tomato pie
chopped basil and scallions
roasted tomatoes in a pie crust
baking a tomato pie with bacon recipe
baking a Southern tomato pie, topping it with cheese
Southern Tomato Pie recipe fresh out of the oven
picnic with a piece of Southern tomato pie and iced tea

When I add any recipe to Danelia Design, it’s part of the “In the Kitchen” series.  Every recipe has to have come from something I grew in my garden. This time of year, we have a bounty of heirloom tomatoes. Are they better tasting since I knew I grew them myself?  I’m not sure….but since I feel that those tomato plants and I have an understanding and since I spoke gently and encouragingly to them as they grew, and no pesticides were used, I kinda think they must be better and more nourishing.  You could also just go to the Farmer’s Market and pick up some tomatoes that someone else has poured their heart and soul into growing. And really, the supermarket is fine too. No judgment here of how you shop for your tomatoes!  Just make sure they’re fresh and that they’re ripe. 

heirloom tomatoes Black Beauty, Sart Roloise, Thornburn's Terra Cotta, and Green Zebra

I am in no way fooling myself that because I used fresh organic heirloom tomatoes, grown from seed, in my own backyard, that this recipe is, in any way, shape, or form, a healthy meal.  It’s a PIE.  Perhaps disguised as a vegetarian dish.  Perhaps even a vegetable entreé.  Maybe, with a stretch of the imagination, a healthy-ish alternative to a quiche or pizza.  But no. It is with regret that I have to be honest with myself, and with you, dear reader – this is a PIE.  It has fat, it has calories, it has carbs, and it has gluten.

And it’s friggin’ FANTASTIC!

I’d love to hear all about your recipe for tomato pie! What other ingredients do you add or leave out? If you’ve made it before or try this recipe, please leave a comment below!

tomato slice

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