last evening was delightful. it surprises me that i jump in with that statement, given the fact that we are in the thick of two tots at home with a nasty childhood virus known as Hand Foot and Mouth disease. which… thankfully so far has been completely bearable. neither child has been febrile, (aka- no fevers; sorry nurse in my coming out) and their spirits have been high and completely untarnished. they are… simply put… contagious. so at home with me they have remained over the past few days. yesterday was a lovely sunny autumn day in Pittsburgh, so we took advantage and lassoed up the poodle to visit our local off leash dog park. he ran his heart out, as always, and we had fun watching and breathing in some of the fresh end of summer air. my dinner plans had been in mental motion from late morning, as i looked at five or so impeccably perfect garden ripe tomatoes, as well as a small bowlful of yellow round cherry tomatoes with excellent flavor. i knew i loved my friend’s tomato pie, i mean really loved it, the last time i visited her for a girls weekend with some pals. she is always cooking up something wholesome and fresh and seasonal each time we visit… and knocking our socks off, which is probably why we get along so well! she has the most charming blog as well, called Simplify Wellness. give it a whirl if you are wellness minded like i am. so yeah, tomato pie. i knew i could do it. i obtained some important tips from WFOHBH (wellness friend of hotbox hipster), like laying the tomato slices out on paper towels to let them sweat for a half hour. i was shocked at how wet the towels were afterward! i found a lovely recipe for a ‘healthy’ pie crust (i know, right?) that used extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. not that i don’t
like LOVE butter, make no mistake… but i am always looking for nice alternatives along my cooking paths. i located the recipe at a lovely little blog called Chocolate & Zucchini. this is the LINK for your enjoyment!
so the tots began preparing for a magic show they would put on for hubby and i later that evening, giving me plenty of ME time in the kitchen. this pie was as simple as could be, layering tomatoes, freshly chopped basil, and cheeses… but i wanted it to have another level of flavor. ‘kick it up a notch’ if you will – in the words of wickedly talented Emeril. how better to achieve that than with sauteed onions and garlic? as the pan was heating for this task, i hit it with some olive oil, and then i sprinkled in a generous shake of red pepper flakes.
i ended up almost caramelizing the onions/garlic over low heat, and the result was fabulous. OK let’s get on with this rodeo…
2 cups flour (whole wheat or all purpose or a mix of both)
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp of dried rosemary
couple pinches of dried basil and oregano as well
1/4 cup of olive oil (i used extra virgin, but any will do)
1/2 cup COLD water
add dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. stir to combine. add in your 1/4 c of olive oil. mix with a fork a bit to combine. (won’t all be combined, and will be course to large crumbles) mix in the cold water with same fork until starting to come together. set your fork down, and get one hand in there, finishing the job until you can turn it out in one piece onto a floured counter. roll it, adding a sprinkle of flour as necessary, until it looks like it will fit your pie plate. add it to the plate, shape it, flute the edges if you want, and fork the bottom a bit. throw it in the fridge for a half hour. then remove from fridge and bake it at 400 degrees for 25 or 30 mins. remove from oven and let cool. you could literally use this crust for anything you can think up from a yummy veggie pie with zucchini, tomatoes and asparagus with swiss cheese… or an onion and swiss chard with bacon breakfast creation… a chicken pot pie with fresh mushrooms… i mean the possibilities are endless.
four ripe medium to large tomatoes / or other heirloom variations
half a large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
mozzarella cheese slices
provolone cheese slices
shaved or grated Parmesan for the top
fresh basil leaves (about a half cup, chopped) – reserve some to sprinkle on top after baking.
WHAT YOU DO:
Prepare your pie crust as instructed above. While it is cooling from baking, you can begin preparations for the filling. Slice your tomatoes (medium thickness) and lay them out on some paper towels to sweat. saute in olive oil (with some shakes of hot pepper flakes) your sliced onion…. after about four minutes, add the garlic and then turn heat to low. let it go for a bit, until onions take on a nice light brown hue. remove from heat. once your pie crust has cooled down, begin layering. First do a layer of provolone. (i think this took four or five slices) then do a layer of tomatoes. salt and pepper that layer, and add the chopped basil atop. then a layer of mozzarella. then the sauteed onions. then another layer of tomatoes. i ended with a layer of mozzarella, and then i topped it off with a bunch of sliced yellow small tomatoes.
((i should add, that along the way, when i reached a cheese topped layer, i gave the whole thing a good firm pressing on with my hands. ‘smoosh it down a bit, yo!’ )) hit the top with some black pepper- and put it into a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes or so. remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh basil, shave some Parmesan cheese over the top, and let it cool off a bit before cutting. (like 15 mins or so) Pour yourself a nice cold beer… or a glass of wine… and get ready to eat one of the most surprisingly unique and shockingly delicious meals you’ve made in awhile!
we literally had to stop ourselves from eating this WHOLE PIE in one sitting… who ARE we?? no joke, it was THAT good. I had a piece and a half… and I knew I wanted to enjoy it the next day… (if the nerd in me is being honest, seeing how it holds up for day 2 crossed my mind!) tonight is the night- I am less than an hour from leftover heaven on a plate… and since I have no cooking to do, these summer wheat beers I’ve had stashed away are tasting even sweeter right now as I wrap up! how will you close out your last week of summer??? make this pie dude. do it.
peace and love yo.