Lila's Tomato Pie

By • July 21, 2013 0 Comments

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Author Notes: Local tomatoes are a big deal around here and my mothers's friend and co-worker Lila grew some of the best classic beefsteaks around. We looked forward to end of summer when she would start dropping off first one or two tomatoes and then entire bags of fruit a week! But the best day was when she brought to work a tomato pie, which is a classic Southern expression of passion for the season. I've updated it in small ways - here I've exchanged Lila's garlic powder for fresh garlic and greatly increased the basil - and more radically in other recipes. This is a good template for fiddling with, as I have done with the topping many times. But if you want the simple classic, this is it! This with a salad of tender leaves with a good shallot-y, mustard-y dressing is a delightful supper on a hot night.

Note: the one step you can't skip is blotting or draining the tomato slices. If you forget that step, your crust will be soggy and the pie watery. Likewise, let the pie cool the minimum time to help it firm up a bit or you'll need a serving spoon instead of a pie wedge.


Serves 6

For the filling:

  • 1 Single pie crust recipe
  • 5-6 Large, ripe but still firm tomatoes
  • 1 handful Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper

The topping

  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups Shredded extra sharp cheddar
  1. An hour or so before you want the pie to go into the oven, core and slice the tomatoes fairly thickly, close to an inch wide. Either blot thoroughly, without crushing the flesh, with tea towels or paper towels until the flesh has a dry, matte look to it, or lie on racks with towels under them to drain thoroughly. Allow to drain this way for as long as you can, up to an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Roll out pie crust and shape into a 9-inch pie plate. If you use a deep dish, increase the tomatoes by two or three and give it a few extra minutes in the oven.
  3. Line pie crust with parchment or foil, weight, and bake for 10 minutes. The crust will begin to dry and faintly tan at the edges. Remove weights and parchment and set aside. You may fill the crust when it's still warm; no harm will be done.
  4. Make a single layer of tomatoes in the crust; they should fit snugly. Sprinkle with a pinch of the garlic, and then a pinch of salt and the pepper. Tear up a few leaves of basil and scatter over. Add another layer of tomatoes and repeat with garlic, s & p and basil. Continue until the shell is full and you've used all the tomatoes.
  5. Gently but thoroughly mix the cheese and mayonnaise. Drop small spoonfuls of topping over tomatoes and gently press to cover the filling.
  6. Bake 40-50 minutes until the top is browning and the filling is bubbling, adding time as needed. Begin checking at 30 minutes just in case!
  7. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before serving, longer if you can.

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