Updated: Aug 16
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Brunch, lunch or dinner this vegetarian tomato pie won't disappoint you! Here's one of the best-loved recipes in my family—tomato pie! Perfect at the peak of summer tomato season.
I love getting fresh tomatoes from the farmers market, or visiting a local farm, especially in the summer when almost every tomato you stumble upon is amazing.
Yesterday we went local restaurant and I heard over the shoulder, costumer asking the waiters is there any tomato pie left from lunch menu?
Yes, tomato pie is a big deal here in a South! And I don't remember a year when I have not made one. There so many ways to make it, and there so many recipes out there to choose from it.
Today I want to share with you a recipe that I have made many times, and have received numerous compliments. This recipe was first published 2020, and I encourage you to check out this post. I have made some improvements to that recipe, one being the addition of HOMEMADE ricotta cheese! Oh yes, most Southern traditional pies are made with mayo and raw onions, and my pie is different & unique in its own way.
ABOUT OUR TRIP TO THE TOMATO FIELD
It's a yearly family tradition for us to pick our own tomatoes along with peppers, fresh corn, eggplant, watermelon etc. Eating unwashed produce directly from the field with the kids competing to see who can eat the most and who can find the most odd shaped looking veggies is so much fun.
Look at these happy faces in the middle of the farm.
It's important to let your children see how food is grown and harvested in addition to understanding that fresh is always best. I know many of you may believe that you don't have time for picking fresh produce.
Think about this; how much time do you have to drag kids to multiple sports activities with the big hope that your little Johnny may become a big football player or will learn how to kick his ball better than everyone in town. Shouldn't it be just as important to teach children about food and to do so from a very early age on how plants are grown and how to prepare them? It's important knowledge to obtain because it encourages overall better health. Raising a picky eater is challenging, isn't it? Consider creating your own seasonal trips to your local farm or farmer's market with your kids. Get them excited about touching smelling and picking out their own food and taking it home to create a delicious meal.
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT THIS TOMATO PIE?
HOMEMADE BUTTERY SUPER FLAKY CRUST
HOMEMADE FRESH RICOTTA CHEESE
CARAMELIZED SWEET ONIONS
DELIGHTFUL HEIRLOOM TOMATOES
MELTED MOZZARELLA ON THE TOP
ABOUT TOMATO WISDOM
If you can't grow your own, try your absolute best to buy heirloom tomatoes and take advantage of purchasing them from your local farmer's market. Shipping and storing tomatoes generally requires refrigeration and temperatures below fifty degrees for long periods. This is the point at which the tomato texture and flavor suffer. Therefore, what you are buying in the grocery store is a reduced quality product! Fresh is best and trust me, you can taste the difference!!
When you get your tomatoes home, store them with their STEM SIDE DOWN IN A SINGLE LAYER IN A COOL DARK PLACE. This will slow down decay.
HERE IS WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO MAKE THIS TOMATO PIE:
Ricotta cheese, homemade or not
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, thyme
WHAT IS RICOTTA CHEESE?
Ricotta is a delightful white, mild, fresh cheese that is wonderful in so many different recipes. With its soft texture and slightly sweet flavor, it makes for a great staple cheese.
It was originally created in Italy when cheesemakers started using the whey that was left behind from making mozzarella and provolone.
So, I guess the saying holds true in this case that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
HOW TO MAKE RICOTTA CHEESE AND WHY BOTHER?
The best part about homemade ricotta cheese is that you can easily make it at home in less than 30 minutes with everyday kitchen utensils and three simple ingredients.
You are going to have a wonderful creamy cheese that has a many uses in the kitchen plus you are going to avoid unnecessary ingredients such as Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum (Stabilizers).
You will need:
4 cups of whole milk, if you can find raw it is better of course
1/2 -1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or lemon juice
STEP 1 - Place the milk in a large pot over medium-low heat.
STEP 2 - Let the milk warm gradually to 184°F-190°F or 90°C, monitoring the temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
STEP 3 - Remove the pot from the heat. Then pour in your acid, the white wine vinegar (that's what I used in the video) and salt.
STEP 4 - with a wooden spoon move everything around for about 30 seconds.
STEP 5 - Place a lid over the pot, and allow the milk mixture to sit for 5 minutes undisturbed.
STEP 5 - Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with a cheesecloth. Scoop the big curds with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the strainer, and then pour in the remaining curds or gently pour into the prepared bowl.
STEP 6 - Let the ricotta sit for 15 minutes and up to 1 hour, depending on how creamy you want it to be. The longer it sits the dryer the consistency will be. The less it sits you will have a yogurt-like consistency.
If you enjoying making ricotta, try to make tvorog (farmer's cheese), its very similar.
TIPS FOR STORING A RICOTTA PIE
The tomato ricotta pie is best served warm, right out of the oven, or room temperature. But if you can’t eat the whole thing in one day, no worries, you can easily store the leftovers. This dish will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I usually wrap mine very tightly with plastic wrap and keep it for a few days.
When ready to eat any leftovers just place on a microwave-safe plate and reheat for a few seconds. You can also cover and store any leftovers in the freezer for up to 4 months. Just remove from the freezer and let thaw on the counter before reheating.
I always bake two pies because one pie, after cooling down, is wrapped up and placed in the freezer to be enjoyed later. This recipe is measured for two pies.
Too darn hot to turn the oven on just for one pie!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Servings: 16 people (2 pies)
Pie Crust Ingredients (for 2 pies)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon sugar
1&1/2 teaspoons pink salt
1 cup cold butter
2/3 cup kefir , buttermilk or yogurt, plain
4 Tablespoons ice water
Filling Ingredients (for 2 pies)
2 lb. tomatoes, any kind (I did a combination in the video)
2 big onions or 4 small
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons of pink salt (for tomatoes, for onions, and for pie filling itself)
2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
4 extra large eggs
1¾ - 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
Herbs (thyme, basil, oregano)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, cut in a cubes
Directions for tomato pies
Preheat an oven 375F.
Cut the butter for the piecrust into cubes and set aside.
Add the flour, salt, and sugar to the bowl and using a pie cutter, incorporate cold butter cubes into the flour mixture until the butter is pea sized. Working fast is necessary to keep the butter from melting. Add the kefir and ice water gently, mixing everything until the dough is formed. (You can use a food processor with the regular blade for this step).
Place dough into a zip lock bag or wrap with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator. Meanwhile, work on the filling.
In a cast iron pan, add olive oil and the chopped onions. Cook for 6-10 minutes over medium heat. Add salt and pepper and fresh thyme. (oregano would be nice too). When the onion looks nice and brown, almost caramelized, set aside.
Chop the tomato and season with one teaspoon of salt. Set a colander on top of a bowl and place the salted tomatoes inside to drain. Save the juice you collect from the tomatoes to use for salad dressing. I use the juice as an acid component in salad dressing. It's great for any kind of salad, but I especially like it on salads that are served with fried oysters. There's just something about that combo that I love.
Take your dough cut it in half and work with one half at the time. Roll piecrust between plastic wrap and roll dough into a round circle and lay into a pie pan and remove the plastic wrap. You are ready to bake the piecrust. (Keep it in mind that a glass pan will bake pie faster than a ceramic pie pan.)
Place a foil sheet on top of each piecrust and pour in some dry beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for another 15 minutes and then take out of the oven.
For the filling, add cooked onions, ricotta cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, drained tomatoes and fresh chopped basil. Mix all together. Pour into the partly prebaked piecrust, divide between two pie shells.
Gently flatten the top of the pie sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and place back into the oven for 45-55 minutes or until the pies are nice and brown and then remove from the oven.
Let it cool down a bit before you slice it. You can serve it warm or at room temperature.
This pie freezes easily. Since this recipe yields two pies, I usually serve one immediately and freeze one after it cools down.