By reader request, here are some tomato pie recipes we've run in The State in the past. Enjoy!
From Ansley Rast, marketing specialist with S.C. Department of Agriculture
Original run date: May 23, 2007
6 to 8 servings
2 cooked and cooled pie shells
4 to 5 tomatoes, peeled
Olive oil, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 to 8 leaves or one bunch of chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chives, diced
1/4 cup green onions, diced
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
Prepare pie crust according to package directions. Let pie crust cool completely.
Peel and slice tomatoes.
Layer tomatoes in pie crust. Drizzle with small amount of olive oil, optional. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Top tomatoes with basil, chives and onions.
Mix together cheese and mayonnaise. Spread mixture over top of tomatoes and bake pie at 350 to 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cheese has melted and pie has heated through.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING:
Calories, 393.3; protein, 7.9 grams; carbohydrates, 30 grams; total fat, 27.4 grams; cholesterol, 25 milligrams; saturated fat, 8.5 grams; dietary fiber, 1.8 grams; sodium, 509.8 milligrams; sugar, 4.2 grams; vitamin A, 103.2 retinol equivalents; vitamin C, 11.3 milligrams; calcium, 135.6 milligrams; iron, 1.7 milligrams; alcohol, 0 grams.
NOTE: Information is meant only as a guide; the ESHA Research program does not compensate for crop-growing conditions, and some methods of cooking affect nutrient content.
A recipe in story form:
Tempting tomato pie
Run date: August 12, 2009
By MEGAN SEXTON
JOHNS ISLAND BARBARA AMBROSE WILL TRY to convince you that tomato pie is nothing special.
But thats tough to believe once youve tasted the concoction of vine-ripened Lowcountry tomatoes, onions, cheddar cheese, mayo and basil, layered atop a thin biscuit crust at the Tomato Shed Cafe her family runs.
"Its simple. Just easy, homecooked food," she said. "People seem to want to make it more difficult. They say, 'No, that cant be all it is."
Perhaps it is that simplicity that makes the dish just about the perfect way to eat a perfect summer tomato.
Many Southerners have a version of tomato pie . Some use a standard pie crust, serving it in slices; others spoon it out like a casserole. Some add onions and plenty of mayonnaise. Others pile on the cheese and fresh basil leaves. But the star is always the vine-ripened tomatoes - just picked from plants that thrive in the Lowcountrys soil and sunshine.
"Ive been in New York before and somebody has recognized me and said, 'Youre from the Stono Market. Do you have a tomato pie with you? In New York!" Ambrose said with an incredulous laugh.
Ambroses family runs the Tomato Shed Cafe at the Stono Farm Market on Main Road in Johns Island. The market sits on the oak-tree canopied road that runs from U.S. 17 all the way to the beaches at Kiawah and Seabrook, drawing a large following of locals along with summer beach traffic.
It started as an open-air market and packing shed in 1987, offering the produce grown at the familys farm on nearby Wadmalaw Island. Fifteen years ago, Ambroses mother, Babs, and one of her close friends Maizie Belser (the originator of the tomato pie recipe) opened the kitchen and the Tomato Shed Cafe. It features checked table cloths - and a waiting list for lunch.
Regular customers say you can close your eyes and point to anything on the menu and you wont be disappointed. Local produce is used for the squash casserole, the raspberry and orange marinated beets, cilantro corn, cucumber tomato onion salad, pink eye crowder peas and on and on.
In the kitchen last week, longtime employee Jeannie Kudul was assembling a large tomato pie to be used in the restaurant (smaller ones are made and sold for take-out at the market).
It starts with the crust. Biscuit mix is prepared and rolled out into thin pieces and pre-baked on a cookie sheet until its crispy and golden brown. Then it fills the bottom of a casserole dish.
"Thats one of the secrets in our pie," Babs Ambrose said. "The only purpose of the crust for us is to soak up the tomato juice when youre storing the pie prior to cooking."
While some recipes call for an 8- or 10-inch frozen or refrigerated pie crust, "we find that to be way too much bread," Babs Ambrose said. "Youre tasting pie crust and not tomatoes."
The biscuit pieces "store beautifully," she said. "You can make them in advance and store them in an airtight container. Even if they are stale they will do their job - soaking up that tomato juice."
Next the tomatoes are cut in half and then into thick, half-inch slices. They are salted and allowed to sit for a while before they are layered, three to four deep, atop the crust.
Salt, pepper and a heavy coating of dried basil comes next. Thinly sliced yellow onions are added, followed by a mixture of mayonnaise and mild cheddar cheese (two-thirds mayo to onethird cheese) spread on the top.
A large pie cooks for 30 to 35 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
When its ready, it is spooned out like a casserole, served as a side dish to entrees like Tomato Shed shrimp, a crab cake plate or eggplant parmesan. "Its nothing special," Barbara Ambrose said. Dont believe her.
Run date: Aug. 26, 2009
In a food story Aug. 12 (2009), we invited readers to share their tomato pie recipes. Instead of our regular monthly menu column, Dinners On, we are publishing two recipes from readers.
2 tablespoons butter
1½ large sweet onions, sliced in 1/4-inch rings (Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweets work best)
4-5 large tomatoes, peeled, cored and sliced
Salt to taste
1 10-inch pie crust
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups medium cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup mayonnaise (or substitute with ½ cup sour cream)
½ teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon spice mix (Italian herbs or other favorite seasoning)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a saute pan and add onions. Cook at medium low for about 30 minutes until caramelized, stirring every few minutes to avoid burning. Lightly salt tomatoes and drain in colander for 20 minutes. Pre-bake pie shell for 10 minutes in 350-degree oven with pie weights to avoid bubbles. Mix cheddar with mayonnaise and ' teaspoon cracked pepper and set aside. Add one layer of tomatoes to pie shell and cover with dash of salt, pepper, sugar and basil. Add the rest of the tomato slices and seasonings in layers. Spread cheese mixture evenly on top of tomatoes. Sprinkle spice mix on top of cheese. Add caramelized onions to the top of the pie in an even layer. Bake pie at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cover with foil if the crust begins to burn.
Recipe from Tricia Butler, from Camden and owner of Sassafras Catering in Portland, Ore.
Tomato and spinach pie
1 (8-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
½ stick margarine or butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 (12-ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese
1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing
½ cup parmesan cheese (extra for topping)
1 teaspoon each fresh garlic, basil and chives
Dried bread crumbs
3-4 large tomatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spinach according to package directions and drain well. Saute onions and mushrooms in margarine until tender. Add spinach. In separate bowl, combine eggs, cottage cheese and next 3 ingredients. Put a layer of bread crumbs in bottom of greased 2-quart casserole dish. Add half of tomatoes and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Next add half of the spinach mixture and half of cheese mixture. Repeat, ending with the cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle with extra parmesan. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
From Pam Newsome, Hartsville