Monday, August 2, 2010

Green Tomato Pie

Got tomatoes?  I do.

When I was a kid my mom could not have gotten a fresh tomato past my lips without a fight.  Tomato sauce on a pizza was just about it for my tomato adventures at that time.  I am still not a tomato-off-the-vine girl unless it is a little sun gold.  Now that I am an adult, I love a caprese salad or fresh chopped tomatoes on pasta with a cream base sauce or a raw tomato sauce for pasta and don't get me started on bruscetta. Seriously good eats.
Along with many Brandywines and Sun Gold tomatoes, I have a bunch of green tomatoes called Green Zebra.  Many assume they are a heirloom tomato, but a little research tells me that they were developed by a tomato breeder in 1985.  They are quite tangy and acidic.  I have tried to make fried green tomatoes with them but their texture is a little too soft and get a bit mushy during cooking.  I have heard others have used them for fried green tomatoes and thought they were great.  They might have picked them earlier than I did, when they were firmer and crisper.

 I am intrigued by the idea of a tomato pie, so I perused the net and my cookbooks.  I kept seeing recipes that had lots of cheese, bacon and mayo. This combination kinda makes me want to hurl.  I am not big on the combination of mayo and cheese.  I never, ever have had tomato pie nor ever heard of it until lately. I really like the idea of a tomato pie but I want it to be a bit healthier than the cheese, mayo, bacon version.  The recipe that came the closest to what I wanted was David Lebovitz's Tomato Tart.  Very simple, but I need to make a pie crust or use a store bought one. I didn't want to go to the store so I opted to make the tart dough that David provided with his tomato tart recipe and use it as pie dough.  Mine is a pie because it is in a pie pan, but it could be a galette because it looks like one and easily could have been cooked on a sheet pan.  His is clearly a tart, made like a tart in a tart pan.  Just in case you were wondering.

I am a bit hesitant because I have pie crust history.  I am known for my ugly . . . um, I mean rustic pies.  They always taste great, you know flaky, buttery and all that stuff a pie crust is supposed to be.  That part I can handle.  I can also handle the fillings, savory or sweet.  It just the way my pie crust looks.  Maybe I am not patient enough to crimp and ruffle.  Maybe lattices should be left to basket weavers.  Maybe I have seen too many truly terrific looking pies (and cakes, cookies etc) that looked too good to eat and they were.  I know it is not fair to categorize all picture perfect pies in this way, but you know what I mean.  Perfect looking does not necessarily equal delicious or even good.   Sorry.  When push comes to shove, taste and flavor wins.  So I am OK with my "rustic" looking pies if they can stand up to the taste test.  I have never been one for beauty contests anyway.
See.  It even kinda looks like a pentagon.  Don't judge me, it was not intentional.

This pie crust turned out really good (for me) and it was easy and I didn't have to do it twice.  Seriously, only once. Although, I obviously didn't get away from my trademark "rustic" look.

So this is how I made my Green Tomato Pie:

Zebra tomatoes are tangy and I wanted something to offset that so I caramelized a couple of onions for some sweetness.

Caramelized Onions:  Use winter or yellow onions for the best flavor. Sweet onions tend to loose their more delicate flavor during the longer cooking time.  Red onions work well also.  Cut the onions in half from the root portion to the tip, peel and slice them thin.  It will look like a lot of onions but it cooks down quite a bit.

 Heat a saute pan with about a tablespoon of oil (olive or canola) and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  This will take 25 to 35 minutes.  I like to add about a tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar at the very end of cooking.  Saute for 1 to 2 minutes more until the onions have absorbed the balsamic vinegar and there is no liquid left in the pan.  Now you have delicious caramelized onions that is hard to resist eating straight out of the pan.  A weakness of mine.  Save some for the pie!

Now, while the onions are cooking slice the tomatoes, put them in a colander, and let them drain. This takes about 15 minutes or so.  I feel if you don't do this there might be too much liquid in the pie and make the pie dough soggy.  I am not absolutely positive it would have been soggy because all the other recipes did not drain or remove the seeds of their tomatoes. I do know I wanted to avoid "soggy pie bottom".  The juiciness of each variety of tomato varies, so keep that in mind.

Look what you get when you drain the Zebra tomatoes! I almost drank it all before I took a picture. 
 It is lovely and really delicious.

I made the pie crust and put it in a 10-inch glass pie pan (better browning on bottom, glass works very well for pies).  It was too big and I could have used a 9-inch pan or just made a galette on a baking pan instead.  My pie turned out galette style anyway as you can see.  Another trick for keeping the pie crust crisp is to brush it thinly with an egg white or dijon mustard on the inside and let it dry while you are getting your ingredients together.  I used mustard like David did in his recipe.

After the onions have cooled, place the caramelized onions in the crust.

Place the drained sliced tomatoes on top of the caramelized onion.

I chopped a tablespoon each of thyme and basil that I have growing on my deck and sprinkled them over the tomatoes along with salt and pepper.

I chose fresh goat cheese from Vermont, about 4 ounces, that I had on hand.  That is sort of local to Pennsylvania, right?  Distant neighbors? I really love local products and the "farm to table" concept.  I think it changes everything.  I crumbled the goat cheese and sprinkled it over the top.   I also grated about 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese to finish the pie with.

Finish your pie edges how ever you want.  I folded mine over and made kind of a galette style pie.  I did not brush the crust edge with an egg wash or cream and just baked it as is.

Place in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 35 minutes.  Start taking a look at it after 30 minutes to check for browning and when the pie is golden brown and the cheese has browned, it is ready.  Take it out to cool and set for about 20 minutes.  I thought this pie was equally delicious or more so the second day and the pie crust held up well.  This picture below is the second pie I baked to make sure the first wasn't a fluke.  It was equally as good.

I am going to follow up with a red tomato pie, but for now here is Green Tomato Pie inspired by David Lebovitz's French Tomato Tart.

Green Tomato Pie

1 unbaked pie crust
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard or egg wash
8 to 10  Zebra green tomatoes (1/2 lbs to 2 lbs in all), sliced and drained in a colander
2 large onions, carmelized
2 teaspoons of Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of chopped herbs (thyme, oregano or marjoram, basil)
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese

Caramelized Onions:  Cut the onions in half from the root portion to the tip, peel and slice them thin.  Heat a saute pan with about a tablespoon of oil (olive or canola) and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  This will take 25 to 35 minutes.  I like to add about a tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar at the very end of cooking.  Saute for 1 to 2 minutes more until the onions have absorbed the balsamic vinegar and there is no liquid left in the pan.  Cool.

In the meantime, slice the tomatoes and let drain for 15 minutes or so.  Move them around in the colander so any trapped juice can escape.

Pie:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan.  Brush Dijon mustard or egg wash onto the bottom and sides of the pie crust.  Place the cooled caramelized onions on the bottom of the pie, followed by the sliced green tomatoes and then sprinkle the herbs on top of the tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.  Crumble the goat cheese over the top and sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese over that.  Fold over the pie crust edges for a rustic look or decoratively make an edging around the pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until the pie crust is browned and the cheese on top is browned.

Notes:  Green tomatoes could be easily substituted for the Zebra greens.  Feta would be a nice substitute for the goat cheese. I do not recommend red tomatoes as a substitute for the Zebras or green tomatoes because they have a much higher water content and produce a lot of liquid during cooking even after draining.

Print Recipe

Happy cooking!


  1. Looks good! Great pictures, and the rustic/ugly comment made me laugh. =)

  2. Those tomatoes are real beauties and the pie looks absolutely delicious. Can't go wrong with caramelized onions + goat cheese. :-D

  3. I have two tarts in the oven right now... I didn't use balsamic, and added cooked home cured thick sliced pepper bacon and also used feta, and pecorino romano cheeses... I used green tomatoes, not the zebra, and I think the combination of the peppery bacon, the sweet onion, the tart tomatoes, and the saltiness of the feta will be fabulous... I can't wait till they come out of the oven, it already smells great in here... Thanks for the inspiration...

  4. Anonymous - Your version sounds great. I did think about putting bacon or pancetta in it but just didn't have any at the time which probably led to the balsamic vinegar. It is a challenge to cook with green tomatoes outside of fried green and salads. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.


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