No matter what you call it, it’s delicious. Technically this dish should be called a Cheese and Tomato tart (single crust, straight edge side, not sloped), but I have always called it Cheese and Tomato Pie and I’m not going to stand on a grammatical technicality.
When I have a bumper crop of tomatoes I start pulling out my favorite family recipes. This is one that I look forward to every summer.
I consider the dough recipe a family heirloom at this point. In the late seventies, my dad and his wife ran a natural foods restaurant and homemade ice parlor in Chapel Hill, NC (that’s a story for another post). We were known for our quiche and part of what made that quiche so delicious was the crust (one day I’ll post that recipe). I’ve been making it (savory and sweet) for nearly 40 years and it has never let me down. This recipe makes two crusts and I like to freeze the second one so a few weeks later I have a homemade dough ready to go.
Most recipes for Cheese and Tomato Pie use mayonnaise to bind the cheese. While I’m sure it’s delicious, I’m a purist on this one. Just the cheese, nothing else required. This recipe has lots of room for variations – add sautéed zucchini, spinach or any vegetable you have around, try different cheeses, add garlic to the onions. It’s all good.
Cheese and Tomato Pie
When I have an abundance of summer tomatoes this is one of my go to recipes, a simple and savory dish. It's good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or maybe a snack. Who am I kidding? It's good anytime!
First make the dough (of course you could use a pre-made dough but that's not my jam). In a food processor blend the flours and salt (2 - 3 bursts). Add the butter and cut in, in 8-10 short bursts until crumbly but you can still see largish pea-sized chunks of butter.
Add ice water and run short bursts again until dough starts to come together. Don't over blend. You want to still see chunks of butter in the dough. At this point, I usually dump the dough out into a large bowl and work it with my hands to form two balls.
Flatten the balls of dough into disks, wrap in plastic film wrap and let rest in fridge for at least one hour.
Butter a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board. Roll about an inch or so larger than the pan. Fit into pan and fold extra dough over to make a nice thick crust. Press dough in to seal at bottom of fold.
Place pan in fridge for a 20 minute rest. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Take shell out of fridge and prick all over with a fork. Line shell with foil and place either baking weights or beans in bottom to weigh down dough. Bake for 17 minutes. Remove pie weights or beans and brush entire shell with beaten egg. This seals the dough and keeps it from getting soggy after you add the filling. Place back in oven for 5-6 minutes until starting to brown. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
If you don't plan on using the second dough within a couple of days, put it in the freezer (wrap in aluminum foil before you do).
During the first dough rest, slice the onions, melt the butter in a 12" pan and add the onions to the pan. Slowly cook, letting the onions get a bit brown, but not entirely caramelized. Add oregano. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. Set aside.
Slice tomatoes and lay on a couple of layers of paper towel. Lightly salt the tomatoes. Let them sit for 30 minutes to release juices. Press paper towels on top to remove as much juice as possible (this will prevent a watery filling). I also remove some seeds just to ensure a less watery result.
Scatter some of the shredded cheddar in the bottom of the crust. Add the sautéed onions. Layer the tomatoes on top. Tear the basil leaves and scatter over the tomatoes. Place the remaining cheddar on the tomatoes. Place parmesan over cheddar. Scatter some dried oregano over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until bubbling and browning in spots.
Let pie sit for at least an hour (longer if you can stand it) before slicing. This will allow the juices to settle and result in a cleaner cut. You can cut just the number of slices you want and reheat at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Or heat the entire tart at once. Or eat at room temp. It's good no matter what. Store any uneaten tart in fridge.
Raised in NYC by divorced parents, Indra’s upbringing was far from the norm. This was the sixties and seventies; a time of sex, drugs and rock & roll. She moved around a lot, dropped out of high school, traveled extensively and was determined to earn her own money and create financial independence. Indra is CEO and co-founder of i.d.e.a. a San Diego-based integrated marketing firm. She has settled down.