By Anna Wills
The hot days of summer are here and though it’s difficult to work through the heat, the temperatures mean that it’s tomato time! I hope you all have been enjoying the much-awaited flavor of vine-ripened tomatoes. As our tomatoes were just ripening and the herb spiral bursting with green parsley, thyme and tarragon a friend gifted me a large piece of homemade Gruyere cheese! To me herbs, tomatoes and Gruyere equals tomato pie.
This recipe is not a quick one, but it is relatively easy. I’ve included a recipe for pie crust here but feel free to use a prepared crust instead. This is my go-to crust recipe for pies- whether sweet or savory.
Using fresh herbs in this pie is important because the herbs are not cooked, just warmed by the heat of the pie. Any fresh herbs will do but including parsley really adds to the bright flavor of the finished pie. The ripe tomatoes are the real star of this dish. I love to use different colors and shapes to make the final pie look as beautiful and complex as it tastes.
This is one recipe where I like to take my time and really appreciate the fresh ingredients: the different colors and shapes of the tomatoes, the bright green and fragrant herbs, the clean smell of the freshly-peeled garlic. We should all try to really appreciate the local goodness every meal offers but most days I bet we are all racing to get a meal on the table between our busy summer schedules on the farm or homestead. Use this tomato and herb pie as one chance to stop and slow down and be thankful for all our land has to offer.
For the Pie Crust:
one cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold butter or lard or any combination of the two
2-3 Tablespoons ice cold water
Sift together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or use clean, cold hands to break the chilled shortening into small pea-sized pieces. Add cold water one tablespoon at a time (from a bowl with cold water and ice cubes) until the dough is moistened. Roll into a ball and put in a glass container with lid. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
For the Pie:
about 3 large tomatoes
2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
3 Tablespoons fresh herbs- parsley, thyme, tarragon, marjoram
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees. Roll the dough onto a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Place in a pie pan and bake in the lower portion of the oven (so the crust doesn’t brown too much) for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Slice the tomatoes into thick 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle them with salt and lay them on a clean tea towel, paper towel or in a colander to drain for about 10-15 minutes. You don’t want too much moisture in the tomato slices. When the pie crust is cool spread the dijon mustard on the bottom of the crust and about 1/3 way up the sides of the crust. Sprinkle the Gruyere over the mustard. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese. You’ll want to overlap the tomatoes but not more than two layers thick. Layering different colored tomatoes and different size slices will really make your finished pie look amazing.
Bake in a 400 F degree oven for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes are very soft. Use a pie crust shield or aluminum foil strips to prevent the crust from browning too much. While the pie is baking make the herb spread. Stir together the fresh chopped herbs, the minced garlic, the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to add salt to this spread! When the pie is done, remove it from the oven and spread the herb mixture over the hot pie using a brush or the back of a spoon to spread it evenly.
Serve the pie hot or let cool to room temperature.