When The Husband and I were stationed at Pope AFB (you know, that tiny thing they called a base inside Ft. Bragg) I worked down the street from a place called Georgia Browns. It’s about the best “southern” food I’d eaten in Fayettenamville. One of the side dishes served was a Tomato Pie that everyone in my office raved about. It took me months to try the Tomato Pie because it just. didn’t. sound. appealing. Then one day, I tried it. I was hooked. Never one to enjoy cooked or even warm tomatoes (please don’t put tomatoes and lettuce on a burger for me!) I couldn’t get enough of this gooey, delicious Tomato Pie. It’s taken me a while to find a recipe that I thought would work out. I tend to shy away from things like mayonaisse and prepackaged pie crusts (yes, I know I could have made my own… but I try not to mess around too much with a new recipe). I found all sorts of recipes on the net with wonderful sounding custards, cream based, cornstarch, etc. but I knew that a true Southerner would use something like said mayonnaise. So I gave this recipe a try. Oh. My. Take me back to the ‘Nam (that’s Fayetteville, NC for those not in the know)! This is it, but… better? The whole house smelled like raw garlic while this was in the oven and I began to feel like there was too much used. After it was all said and done, I’d probably just drop the garlic to 3 cloves, but I wouldn’t cry if I used all 4 again. The recipe was very easy to follow, but I did make some changes to the interior of the recipe before going full steam ahead. Here’s what I did:
1 prepackaged pie crust
2 c shredded mozzarella (I’ll use fresh next time)
4 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters, then quartered again
1 c tightly packed basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 T Dijon mustard
1 T (at least) white pepper
1 t salt
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, unfold the pie crust and press into a 9″ tart pan. You can weigh the pastry down while you blind bake it (which really helps… just use some dried beans you having laying around- don’t forget to line it with wax or parchment paper first… yes, I’ve forgotten before). Bake for 6-7 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 1/2 c shredded mozzarella; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
While the crust is blind baking, cut the tomatoes into lengthwise quarters, then cut the quarters into quarters. I made the extra cut because I thought the larger quarters were going to be too chunky in the tart… and I was right, as the smaller pieces were still a little unmanageable. Lay out your tomato pieces on a paper towel and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Mill the basil and garlic together on your cutting board until you have the consistency of small tapioca beads (about 1 minute). Combine in a medium bowl: basil/garlic mixture, remaining mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, season with salt and pepper.
Arrange your tomato pieces in a pretty layer on the bottom (but don’t be too anal, it gets covered up). Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes and gently press down. Bake for about 30-35 minutes (the original recipe called for 25 minutes, but it was still raw at that point. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. Take a bite and your taste buds will take a journey to North Carolina.
I served this with a simple salad of Romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced red onion, artichoke hearts and shaved parmesan that I coated with lemon juice and about 1 T olive oil.