Hey y’all – it’s tomato season in the Lowcountry and time to make Beaufort’s Legendary Tomato Pie!!! Honestly – trumpets should sound in tribute to their arrival once again!
You may want to take a drive across the bridge to Barefoot Farms or make a visit to Dempsey Farms for the freshest and most delicious tomatoes in South Carolina. After all, when you start with the best ingredients you’ll have great results. If you’re not from here, be sure to visit your local farmer’s market. http://www.dempseyfarmsupick.com/
Tomato pie is a summertime classic! I think of it as a tomato sandwich in a pie shell. I grew up eating tomato sandwiches and they’re delicious. Historically speaking, the origin of tomato pie is hard to pinpoint. Savannah’s Damon Lee Fowler, the author of nine cookbooks, believes it became widely popular in the 1970s. The first tomato pie recipe in Southern Living appeared in July 1978. So maybe Damon is right.
It’s best when making a sandwich to use soft and fluffy white bread. It soaks up any tomato juice and is truly the way we do it in the South. Just be sure you don’t end up with a soggy mess. Salt and pepper your tomatoes first and set them on paper towels to drain. It only takes a few extra minutes.
Tomato season is fleeting so get out there and find some Cherokee Purples, Green Zebras, and Brandywines for a brilliant filling. Combining heirlooms makes for a very special pie. Get creative – you can even add some corn and make a tomato/corn pie.
The tomatoes pictured in this story are from the backyard of my talented former neighbor in Habersham, Dan Hammond. I applaud both his generosity and his talent. Thanks, Dan.
Duke’s mayonnaise is somewhat of a religion in the South. Down here we are fiercely loyal to our mayonnaise – especially when it comes to using it in “mater sammiches “and tomato pies. I like to add just a tablespoon of Dijon to give a bit of a tangy note to the filling. This helps balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes and the richness of the buttery crust. Be sure to choose a smooth, not grainy, or country-style version.
And did you realize before tomato pie, there was green tomato pie? I’ve heard about it for years but never made it. It’s actually a dessert that nineteenth-century Southerners used to prepare as a substitute for apple pie. Now, this dessert is nearly extinct.
Beaufort’s Legendary Tomato Pie
Start by slicing the tomatoes, salting them, and draining them on paper towels for at least 30 minutes. No one wants a watery, soggy pie and that will happen if you skip this step because tomatoes have tons of water in them and you have to get it out. This recipe has been tweaked and tailored until just right.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 pie crusts
6 large tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano
freshly ground black pepper
6 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
4 green onions, minced ( use white and green parts)
15 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
While tomatoes are draining, cook the bacon on the stovetop. Set aside to cool on paper towels.
Roll out and fit half the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim the edges and pre-bake at 400 degrees according to the instructions. Remove to a cooling rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Slice tomatoes and sprinkle with salt. Drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes.
Combine mayonnaise, Dijon, olive oil, cheddar cheese, and Parmigiano -Reggiano. Once cooled, crumble the bacon and stir it into the mixture.
Once the bottom pie crust has cooled, spread one-third of the mayonnaise mixture evenly on the bottom of the crust. Place one-third of the tomatoes in a layer and sprinkle with pepper, one-third of the green onions, and then one-third of the torn basil.
Repeat the layers 2 more times, starting with the mayonnaise mixture and finishing with the basil, or until all the ingredients are used.
Roll out the other crust and place it on top. Crimp the bottom and top crusts together. Use the tip of your knife to make a few slits for steam to escape.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top, is golden. Allow to cool before slicing. Savor every morsel – this pie is worthy of a parade down Bay Street with a marching band!