So a while back I made a declaration: I would make that tomato pie digthischick referenced in her blog before tomato season was up. I’m always nervous to make such a commitment in a public forum like this for just the reason I do it in the first place. Stakes are higher. I’m creating expectations I must live up to or disappoint not only myself but anyone who might have heard the hollow echoing of my stated goal. Well, sometimes that pressure is just what I need, and I’m happy to say I enjoyed a most delicious tomato pie served up with a large helping of smug self-satisfaction. I really had the opportunity thrown in my lap, and failure would have been a colossal embarrassment. When you come home from a visit to your grandmother’s with a basket full of her garden bounty, including an abundance of tomatoes, you get to work.

So now that I had the primary materials, I had only to fill in with a few additional items. It happened to be a cozy Sunday afternoon at home, and I had most of the ingredients on hand. Flour, butter, plain yogurt, cheddar cheese, garlic and tomatoes. I was missing a couple key things, though: Gouda, chives and Parmesan cheese. But I had Italian parsley (it’s green like chives, so close enough, right?) and some pecorino Romano, which is a hard cheese I thought, would substitute for Parmesan all right. I wasn’t in the mood to drive far, so I called up to Sophie’s Cellars to see if they had any Gouda on hand. They didn’t, but I REALLY didn’t want to drive to Safeway, so I decided the Gruyere they did have would be suitable enough. So, after a quick trip across the Monte Rio Bridge I was mixing up dough for the “perfect effing pie crust” (yes, really a quote, and yes, really effing perfect). 

I don’t have a fancy mixing machine, so I used a good ol’ pastry cutter to break my butter into the flour, and it didn’t even take that long. I began rolling the dough out and was surprised to find it was nothing like any of my past dough-rolling experiences. It didn’t stick to everything or crack up at the edges with every roll, and I didn’t have to add loads more flour to keep it from getting gooey. It was the most well-behaved dough ever. I swear we’re like best friends now.

I’m already trying to think of what other pies I can make, sweet or savory, just to have an excuse to feel again the amazing sense of accomplishment from a beautiful piecrust. But the two sticks of butter-required sort of stops my heart in its tracks, and I’m waiting for a really good occasion to give me permission to indulge. I made a few adjustments to the filling so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, though I wouldn’t specifically call it healthy either. I used nonfat plain yogurt, Fage Greek yogurt, which is so rich and creamy I use it for sour cream all the time and never remember it isn’t actually cream. I grated a cup of reduced fat cheddar cheese — not that rubbery orange stuff, but an aged sharp white cheddar we get at Trader Joe’s and love. And then I grated a cup of the Gruyere. This is where I would have added the pecorino Romano as well, but I forgot it. Oh well. I didn’t even notice. I did chop in the parsley and garlic and added some salt and pepper.

Maybe not the most appetizing quite yet, but look at that gorgeous crust in the background. I wanted to mention also that I like to roll my dough out on a piece of wax paper, that way if it does start to stick, I can flip it over and peel the paper off without too much damage. It slides around a bit, which can be annoying, and I’m not sure it’s even necessary with this dough recipe, but I’ve found it to be a lifesaver in situations with less forgiving doughs. Finally, it was time for the super stars: tomatoes. I sliced them in thick chucks and layered them atop the cheesy base, sprinkled with ground pepper and sea salt. 

I very carefully laid the top crust over the pie, pinching the edges and wishing I knew how to make that sweet country fluted edge you see on the pie crusts in magazines. I think mine came out pretty nice considering I was making it up as I went. Must have been those years of high school ceramics paying off…

I baked it at 350 until it looked done, maybe 45 minutes or so, then was sure to let it rest so all the juices could set. I didn’t know if the pie really needs those little venting holes on top, but they look so charming it didn’t feel like a real pie if I didn’t cut them in.

I was very happy with how it came out, and before I even tasted it I could tell how light and flaky the crust was. Well, two sticks of butter hand cut into the dough, how could you go wrong? I grilled up a little steak to go along side and add a little protein to the meal, and soon enough, we were eating tomato pie.

I’m only sad I’m going to have to wait until next summer to get tomatoes worthy of making this dish again. And I think I’ll use even more tomatoes that time!

Article and Images courtesy of Noelani Price of