Cooking is Cheaper than Therapy: Southern Savory Tomato Pie

This is one of those recipes I refer to as a "springboard" recipe. Make the basic recipe, and later make it your own using some of your favorite touches. This is a basic recipe as seen in Paula Deen, Pioneer Woman, and Southern Home. In fact, my sister reminded me the other day that I have been making this recipe now for at least eight years - - whenever tomatoes are abundant. 

And no - - don't be sending me comments that this is not a traditional Italian "tomato pie," as in pizza. You are right. It is not a pizza. And no - - don't be sending me comments about mayonnaise as the ingredient. And no - - you cannot use Miracle Whip™ Salad Dressing. Big difference between mayonnaise and salad dressing.  And no - - do not use diet, lite, or cheap mayonnaise. If you use a vegan mayo, don't come to me complaining if it comes out all watery. Use the BEST commercial real egg mayonnaise available to you. 

So you may be asking, "Catie, why are you being so belligerent?" Seriously? Have you ever read the comments on recipe web pages? I am reminded of this article, "The Stupid Sh#@t People Say in the Comment Sections."  

We have all read those comments under recipes regarding complaints because the recipe did not work out because they exchanged an important ingredient for something else (e.g. used almond milk instead of buttermilk), or under a recipe for chicken, a reader has aggressively just typed in, "I hate chicken." Even I have suffered through some rude comments on this blog regarding a popular pot roast recipe. Basically, if you don't like mayonnaise or have a "mayonnaise allergy," then you probably won't like this recipe. However, the topping is rather cheesy, and once served many will not know that mayonnaise binds the cheesy topping altogether. If you have enjoyed baked cheesy dips such as artichoke, the recipe for the cheesy-topping isn't much different. 

Don't give me a bad time about my photos, either. I am not a photographer and realized for photo-sake, I could have layered in more tomatoes. Yes - I know, I could have done a better job of centering, but it looked good to me from the eye of the camera. 



Directions for the basic fresh tomato pie:

6 Roma tomatoes 
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1/2 tsp or more of dried basil will also work. crumble it finely in your hand to loosen up the fragrance)
1/4 tsp dried Mexican oregano (optional)
1/2 cup of chopped green onion
1 single 8-9" pie crust. Use your favorite pastry pie crust recipe or store-bought crust is fine (no, you cannot use graham cracker crust). 
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise - use the good stuff - - the BEST! 
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly pre-baked pie crust for about eight minutes. (You may give the bottom of the crust  an egg white wash before pre-baking to keep the crust from getting soggy) Let cool.  

Slice the tomatoes. Layer the tomato slices into one to two layers if needed onto the cooled crust. Upon each layer add a sprinkling of the onions,  fresh cut basil, and salt and a grind of black pepper to taste. 

In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise and the grated cheeses. Spread mayonnaise/cheese topping over the layered tomatoes. Spread the topping to the crust to seal the layers of tomatoes. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until top and crust is lightly brown. Let set-up for about five minutes. Serve into slices while warm.

Note: When baked the skins separate from the tomato, and with Romas, it isn't very noticeable. Roma tomatoes seem to have a thinner skin than other tomatoes.  However, if you want to use a different tomato and don't want the separated skin in your dish (it's about appearance only), you can always pre-blanch each of the whole tomatoes, toss in chilled water to cool the tomato down, and then the skin is easily removed.  The tomato then can be sliced and proceed as above...  Me? It doesn't bother me or affects the taste so I don't bother removing the skins. 



Yes, I really do spend the time on my crust edges.
They are not manufactured. I am OCD that way
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Once you have followed the original recipe, now is the time to "springboard" and make it your own. This recipe is so versatile, you can make it, not only in a round pie, but a rectangle and cut it into squares like lasagna, or even make mini-tarts for finger food. Serve it hot or cold. Perfect for a picnic. Instead of green onions, saute up some sliced sweet onions or shallots instead. Maybe use some chopped chives. You could also sprinkle some black or green sliced olives on top of the tomatoes for more of a Mediterranean flavor. Asparagus season? Lightly pre-cook asparagus, chop into bite-size pieces, and add on top of the tomatoes. For a little more southwestern feel, definitely layer some roasted green chilies (seeded) on top of the tomatoes. 

Want to add some meat to it? Add some crumbled already-cooked Italian sausage (drained well), or already-fried chopped bacon, or even flaked crab meat on top of the layered tomatoes before you add the cheesy-topping. Spice up the cheesy-topping with some chili powder, or more Italian herbs,  or even Old Bay Seasoning if you are using crab meat. 

Add at least two cups of whatever semi-hard cheese you have around like gouda or Swiss if you don't have mozzarella or cheddar around - even sprinkle in some grated Parmesan if you have it. If going for more of a southwestern feel, add some pepper jack cheese. If you use the basic ingredients and quantities, I think this recipe is endless. It is also very rich, so a nice fresh side salad of greens with a light lemon or vinaigrette dressing assists in cutting the richness. Enjoy!  

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