A few years ago, I stumbled upon a wonderful website while looking for a solution to some household problem I was having. I honestly don’t even remember how I found the site, but HomeEc101 has become one of my go-to websites whenever I need to know how to cook something, clean something or fix something. If you are a child of the 80s like me, perhaps you took an actual Home Economics class in high school. In that class, I learned to sew on a button (all I retained from the sewing portion of the class), cook basic things, and balance a check book. None of it was rocket science but all of it prepared me to actually LIVE in the world as a functioning adult. If it is offered when The Boy is in high school, I am absolutely going to force him to take it. Home Ec 101 does a lot of that. It’s really basic stuff that most of us need to know (but either don’t know how or have forgotten) about running a household. And I go to the site whenever I need help with something.
The other reason I love Heather’s site is that she too is a Lowcountry mama. A lot of the recipes that I make regularly have started from her site. As I am not a Lowcountry native, I didn’t know a lot about the cuisine of my new region when I moved here. Home Ec 101 has really helped educate me. Need to feed an army? Check out her Chicken Bog recipe. It is a Lowcountry staple and is seriously one of the best things you will ever taste. There are so many other great recipes and ideas on the site and it is worth a look.
My VERY favorite recipe from her site is her Tomato Pie (Home Ec 101 Tomato Pie – the Calista Flockhart reference was one of the most valuable culinary directions I’ve ever been given). She gives some credit to Paula Deen and actually my old boss described his first tomato pie experience like the Paula Deen version – more of an Italian flavor. But this ain’t southern Italy, it’s South CAROLINA, y’all! Leave the mozzarella for pizza. The first few times I made Tomato Pie, I followed the Home Ec recipe to the letter, but I want these perfect July tomatoes to be the star of the show. And if they are perfect tomatoes, the bacon will get lost anyway so I leave that out. And I’ve always got fresh basil in the summer. You can absolutely use dried but use fresh if you can.
As I may have mentioned a few hundred times, I am not much of a baker (science and all that jazz) so I do a bit of a cheat here and use store-bought pie crust. If you are up for it, absolutely use your recipe for a double crust pie for this. I’m going to cheat because that’s how I roll.
You do need really good tomatoes though. They don’t have to be beautiful but they do need to be very ripe. It’s July in the Lowcountry so they are pretty damn good here right now. Buy what you can from your local farmstand or market and make this immediately. You will give your thanks to the tomato gods. And y’all, this pie just tastes like summer. You gotta have it.
- 1 recipe (or one box if you are me) double crust pie crust
- 4-5 very ripe tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced as thin as you can possibly get it
- 1 1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
- 1/4 C mayonnaise (NOT low or non fat)
- about 1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/4 C basil, sliced into chiffonade (very thinly sliced into strips)
- 1 egg and 1/4 water, whisked together
Core tomatoes and cut in half. Give the halves a little squeeze over the sink to remove most of the seeds, then scoop out the rest with your fingers. Slice thinly and place slices in a colander over the sink or bowl. Salt and pepper and allow to drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Mix 1 C cheese and mayonnaise together in small bowl with pepper.
Line a 9″ pie plate with one crust so that the edges are hanging over the rim a bit. Poke bottom of crust with a fork and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 C cheese. The fat in the cheese will act as a bit of a barrier to the tomato juices soaking in. It won’t make it totally crispy but will help a little. Cover the cheese with a layer of sliced tomatoes, overlapping them slightly, using about half of the slices. Add a small layer of sliced onions and a bit of the basil. Top with half the cheese mixture. Repeat and then cover with second crust.
Tuck edges of top crust under bottom crust and crimp with fork or with fingers. Cut a few vents in the top (I tried to make a pretty Palmetto tree – how’d I do?) and brush with egg wash. Cover edges of pie with foil to keep edges from browning too much. Bake for about 45 minutes, removing foil edges after about 30 minutes.
Cool on wire rack for 10-15 minutes to allow juices to stop boiling and cheese to firm up a bit. Serve with a salad or just hunker down with a fork and enjoy. I’ve had this at breakfast, lunch and dinner and it makes me feel good every single time.