Last week I teased some of you on facebook with a picture of a Tomato Pie – since the summer is not yet over I would like to share the story behind that delicious looking picture. Let me tell you now, it tastes every bit as good as it looks!! The recipe comes from Florence, a friend from North Carolina, who first cooked it for me last year. When Florence came back to St Chinian this year and asked me for dinner, I persuaded her to make tomato pie again.
The following week I got together again with Florence for a cooking lesson in how to prepare this delicious dish from the South. I’d prepared a basic shortcrust pastry, to which I added a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Rolled out thinly, lined a flan tin and pre-cooked it. This is not absolutely necessary: if you don’t have the time you don’t have to pre-bake your pie shell (or even make your own pastry), but I prefer it to have that little extra crunch. Here are the remaining ingredients (almost all of them anyhow):
A tablespoon of Dijon mustard is spread in the bottom of the pie shell, which is then filled with thickly sliced tomatoes. Thickly means about 2cm thick, and you use your thumbs to remove the seeds and watery stuff from the tomatoes. If there are gaps, cut a slice into pieces and fit them in where necessary. Sprinkle some chopped shallots over the tomatoes, a little salt and pepper, then sprinkle over some fresh basil, torn or chopped.
Spread grated cheese evenly over the whole thing; I used Comte, but you can use Cheddar, Gruyère or Cantal or a mixture.
Now comes the final step – mix some home-made mayonnaise (or use good store-bought) with some grated parmesan and spread evenly over the grated cheese. A little tricky, but if you drop blobs of the mix onto the cheese and use a rubber spatula to spread it, you’ll achieve a good result.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 celsius for 20 minutes and you’ll end up with a golden looking tart with a slightly puffed top, and a delicious smell in your kitchen.
Leave it to stand for as long as you can resist it (about 20 minutes?) and serve warm. What did we have with it? I don’t think anything, except for some very nice wine, but I imagine that a green salad would go extremely well with it. The key to success for this dish is to use only the sweetest, ripe tomatoes at their peak. Search for them – it’s worth it. If necessary bribe a gardening neighbour to give you some of his crop. Don’t bother making it in the winter or with supermarket tomatoes, you’ll only be wondering what the fuss is all about! And the other thing to watch for is not to over cook the pie. The idea is for the tomatoes to be warmed through, but not cooked, so they retain their fresh taste. Enjoy!