Tomato pie, or tomato tart, can be served as an entrée or as an appetizer. This is a great recipe that has Southern, Italian, and French influences. The concept of tomato pie is a favorite in the Deep South, but it’s main flavors (basil and garlic) are traditional Italian combinations. This particular recipe also uses a very basic, homemade French pastry dough for the crust, pâte brisée.
This is a great summer dish, it is fairly light and fresh tasting but the dough and cheese helps to make it more filling if you want it to be a full meal. We grow our own basil, and it helps to make the dish much cheaper, but even with the cost of purchasing basil it is surprisingly inexpensive for the amount of good food you’re getting out of it, and you will use a ton of the basil so there won’t be much left over from those giant packages they make you buy at the store (which always ends up going to waste just sitting in the refrigerator)!
If you don’t want to put in the extra effort, you can also use a frozen dough. (I like Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells, and they work so so well for little individually portioned appetizers!)* If you’re make the appetizers version, cut the filling ingredients of this recipe in half, and you’ll be good to go!
This dish doesn’t freeze very well, but it can stay refrigerated for about a week and if you’re doling out entrée portions, it will feed about 6 people.
*Note: If you would like to make individual, appetizer portions or if you simply aren’t interested in making your own dough, I suggest using Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells. See the bottom of this post for details and pictures!
For the pâte brisée:
12 tbs salted butter
2 tbs olive oil
6 tbs water
2 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 slightly rounded cups of flour
For the filling:
2lbs grape tomatoes
3 heaping tbs chopped, fresh basil
4 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of mozzarella or other Italian cheese mix
splash of olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 405°F (yes, 405°, I know that sounds weirdly specific but it will cook the dough perfectly so that it doesn’t brown too much but still gets that melt-in-your-mouth quality). In a 9×13 cake pan place the butter (chopped by the tbs), olive oil, water, sugar, and salt. After the oven has preheated, place the pan on a middle rack and cook for about 15 minutes (until the butter is totally melted and a little brown on the edges).
While the butter is melting in the oven, chop the tomatoes and the basil and mix them up in a large bowl. Mince the garlic and mix that in as well. Make sure that you keep watch over the butter in the oven, because it takes people all different kinds of time to chop things and you don’t want to brown the butter too much!
Carefully remove the butter from the oven and add in the two cups of flour. The butter will be very hot and sputter a bit, so be careful not to burn yourself! Using a spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the flour with the butter mixture. It might take some time for the flour to soak in the butter, but be patient with it!
With your hands, flatten out the dough into the pan. I know it doesn’t look like enough to cover this pan, but it spreads really well! Use the pads of your fingers to press the dough into the side. You want the pan to be covered completely, and on the bottom it should be fairly thin, but not so thin that you can see through to the dark pan. Then, take a fork and prick through the crust to allow it to vent while cooking.
Place the pan in the oven, with no filling for ten minutes. While it is cooking, add the cheese and olive oil in with the tomato mixture. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste. Tomatoes are so delicious with salt, so don’t be too afraid to add tons of salt (you are making six servings of pie). Here, the ratio of the ingredients is really up to you. Test taste it along the way to make sure it has the balance of flavors that you like! The important thing is that, once you’re done, it has a fairly thick consistency. You don’t want anything too soupy or even too liquidy because the dough will get very soggy and won’t hold up when you try to serve it.
After the first ten minutes of cooking the shell are up, take it out of the oven and spread the filling into it.
Then, cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the filling completely warmed. We like to serve huge portions of this because people end up eating way more than they expect, and it’s delicious with milk!
P.S. If you want to make neat individual portions, us this dough as a starter.
This makes six portions, and only requires about 1/4 of the filling that the previous recipe calls for. Simply preheat the oven all the way to 425°F and place the pastry shells face up on a baking sheet.
Next, bake them for 15-18 minutes.
Using a knife, delicately cut out the tops and fill the shells with your tomato filling!
Place the tops back on, and put them in the oven for another minute or two or until the cheese seems melted.
Dinner guests love this kind of stuff and it is so so easy!