There are numerous times I’m happier than a possum eatin’ a sweet ‘tater that I live in the South. The times I don’t are when the heat index soars to 112 degrees or terrible storms pop up out of nowhere, but it sure beats the snow and ice where I’m from!
One of the things I love most about the South is they do things with tomatoes that as a transplant, I never dreamed of!
Like…..thick, juicy sliced tomatoes on white bread with mayo. Genius!
Oh heck, here in the South….they don’t even wait until tomatoes are ripe before turning them into culinary heaven! When I first moved here, I did NOT get the fried green tomato thing at all. Even my husband, who had already lived in the South for about ten years when we married, was skeptical about green tomatoes even being edible. Then, having an abundance of green tomatoes that we picked before an impending frost, we decided to try them. We were hooked and they became a Sunday fall favorite of ours before watching the Packer game.
Another thing Southerners do with tomatoes is they make tomato PIE.
Tomato pie is not a sweet pie, but savory with layers of tomatoes baked in pastry with mayonnaise and cheese! More genius!
My Tomato and Corn Pie with Fresh Basil is a slightly different take on this Southern classic. I add other seasonal goodness with fresh corn and basil in a quiche-like custard filling. Tomatoes, corn and fresh basil all go together beautifully!
Use your favorite pie crust recipe or cheat with a good, refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury. Whether store-bought or homemade, you’ll need to blind bake the crust before filling it. Unroll it, then place in your baking dish. Make sure the edges of the crust are firmly pressed against the top edge of the pan.
Cover the unbaked crust with parchment paper, then fill with pie weights, dried beans, rice or lentils to weigh it down so the crust does not shrink too much while blind baking (It will shrink a little). Use dried beans, rice or lentils you don’t plan to consume such as ones that are expired.
Let it cool a bit, then sprinkle the bottom with a combination of shredded Parmesan cheese and all-purpose flour. The cheese and flour mixture creates a barrier so the custard (as a liquid) does not make the crust soggy.
Another important step is to “drain” the tomatoes. Slice, then place the slices on a layer of paper towels. Generously salt and let stand. After about 20 minutes, turn and salt again. Just before arranging in the pie, blot dry with paper towels.
We served this with a cucumber salad that’s an old family recipe from husband’s side. It was the perfect Southern summer meal!
1 prepared pie crust, homemade or purchased
5 small tomatoes such as Roma (about 1 pound), sliced approximately 1/4-inch thick
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 small ears of blanched corn)
3 scallions, white and light green part only, finely chopped
8 large leaves fresh basil, torn into 1/2-inch pieces plus more for garnish
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using a purchased crust, roll it out to flatten it slightly. Place in a 9 or 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Press the pie crust securely against the pie pan including securing the edge of the crust to the rim of the pie pan. Dock the bottom in a few places with a fork. Place a large piece of parchment over and up the sides and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice.
Bake 13 to 14 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
While the crust is baking, line a baking sheet with paper towels. Generously season the tomato slices with salt. Place on the paper towels to absorb the excess liquid that is drawn out by the salt. Before assembling, blot the tomatoes dry with paper towels.
Remove parchment and weights and allow to cool 20 minutes.
Combine cheese and flour and sprinkle evenly over the bottom of the crust. Top with 1/3 of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with half the corn and scallion,
Whisk together eggs and half-and-half, 1 teaspoon
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set and top is lightly browned. (Keep an eye on the crust. You may need to make a foil collar to keep it from getting overly browned.) Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional torn basil leaves.
MAKE AHEAD: This dish reheats beautifully. For guests, serve immediately, but for the family, cut into pieces as desired and heat in the oven.
FREEZING: We've frozen this with success. Thaw in the refrigerator, cut into pieces as desired and reheat in the oven.