Trace's Tomato Pie

By Trace Barnett

Tomato pie is a cherished dish that embodies Alabama’s love for fresh, locally grown produce and southern comfort food traditions. This version of tomato pie typically starts with a homemade or store-bought pie crust, blind-baked to ensure a crisp foundation. The filling features layers of ripe, juicy Alabama tomatoes, often from farmers’ markets or backyard gardens, combined with sweet Vidalia onions. These layers are seasoned generously with salt, pepper, and fresh basil or oregano, reflecting the region’s preference for bold, yet simple flavors.

A hallmark of Alabama tomato pie is its creamy topping, a mixture of mayonnaise and sharp cheddar cheese, which is spread over the tomatoes and onions before baking. Some variations also include a sprinkle of Parmesan for an extra savory kick. The pie is baked until the tomatoes are tender and the cheese topping is bubbly and golden brown. This savory pie is often served warm, allowing the flavors to meld beautifully, making it a popular choice for family gatherings, potlucks, and summer meals. The dish captures the essence of Southern cuisine, where fresh ingredients and comforting, home-cooked flavors reign supreme.

Trace's Tomato Pie

Pie Crust (Serves 6 – 8)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lard, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 6-8 tablespoons ice water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare the Ingredients: Chill the lard in the refrigerator for at least an 30 minutes to an hour before starting. Fill a small bowl with ice and water to have ice water ready.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  3. Cut in the Lard: Add the chilled lard pieces to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the lard into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized bits of lard.
  4. Add Ice Water:
       – Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ice water over the mixture.
       – Gently toss with a fork to combine.
       – Repeat, adding 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time, until the dough just comes together. You may not need all 8 tablespoons; add only enough water for the dough to hold together when pressed.
  5. Form the Dough: Divide the dough into two equal parts. Shape each part into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
  6. Roll Out the Dough:
       – On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to fit your pie pan.
       – Roll from the center outward, turning the dough a quarter turn occasionally to ensure even thickness.
       – Carefully transfer the dough to the pie pan, pressing it gently to fit.
       – Trim the edges, leaving a slight overhang for crimping or fluting.
       – If making a double-crust pie, repeat with the second disk of dough.
  7. Chill the Crust: For best results, chill the crust in the pie pan for 30 minutes before filling and baking.

Baking the Pie

For a pre-baked crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent bubbles.
  3. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the weights and parchment, and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
For a filled pie: Follow your specific pie recipe instructions for filling and baking.

Tomato Pie Filling

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4–5 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 2 tablespoons oregano and
  • Thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Make filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half. Gently squeeze out excess liquid and seeds. Cut tomatoes into thin slices and place on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until golden brown. Remove from heat.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise with 2 cups cheese, hot sauce, and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle onions in bottom of the pre-baked herb pie crust. Smear a thin layer of cheese mixture over onions. Top with a layer of tomatoes. Smear remaining cheese mixture over tomatoes. Top with remaining tomato slices and sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese over top. Garnish with additional herbs. Cook for 30–35 minutes or until hot and bubbling.

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