Pies are supposedly the next dessert trend – what do you think? As for me, I like a good pie. Fruit pie, cream pie, custard pie, there are so many out there but most would probably think of something sweet first, right? I know I do. However, when my friend Cathy prepared and brought this James Beard’s Tomato Pie to share at a recent get-together, I’ve opened up to savory pies.
Sure, there are always savory quiches but this was different. Made with a buttermilk biscuit crust, layers of fresh basil and tomatoes are topped with cheese and mayonnaise before baking to perfection. Stick with me here, especially those who are anti-mayo! This is a savory pie I’m still craving days later. Yes, it’s that good!…
So you have biscuits, tomato, mayo and cheese. Just as is, it’s pretty delicious. But when I make this, I’ll be adding some crumbled bacon and serve this with a tossed green salad. Then it’s just like a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich in pie form! (With the lettuce as part of the salad, that is.)
The recipe is ridiculously easy and since it’s from Ruth Reichl, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, you know it’s going to be amazing…
James Beard’s Tomato Pie
The Key Ingredients in a Great Tomato Pie
The charm of the tomato pie is in its unadulterated, genuine ingredients. But the play is not merely on the choice of ingredients but on their symphony.
- Tomatoes: Choose juicy, locally-sourced tomatoes, which are sun-ripened to perfection. Their vibrant hues and natural sweetness are the pie’s heart.
- Herbs: Fresh basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme create a bouquet of flavors, each note singing in harmony with the tomatoes.
- Cheeses: Experiment with mozzarella, cheddar, feta, and parmesan. Each cheese adds a distinct personality to the pie.
- Crust: A pie’s soul is its crust. A blend of buttery richness and crispy texture ensures the pie stands tall and proud.
A Bit About James Beard
Who was James Beard?
James Beard wasn’t just a chef; he was an icon in the world of American cuisine. Born in 1903, Beard’s love for food was evident from his childhood, and his journey took him from a humble home cook to a celebrated chef, author, and TV personality.
His Culinary Achievements
Beard’s influence in the culinary world is still felt today. With numerous cookbooks to his name and a television show that brought gourmet cooking to the American living room, he truly transformed the way America eats. His legacy is further cemented by the James Beard Foundation Awards, which celebrates excellence in cuisine.Print
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
3/4 cups buttermilk
4–6 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs), sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
2–3 basil leaves, thinly shredded (chiffonade)
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup real mayonnaise
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Begin by making the biscuit crust. Combine flour, baking powder, baking powder and salt
Cut in the butter until it’s the size of peas, and add parsley.
Stir in buttermilk until the dough holds together, turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few minutes. Pat it into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan.
Cover the biscuits with tomato slices then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes.
Combine the cheese and mayonnaise in a small bowl and spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes.
Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Remove and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
Keywords: tomato pie
Garnishing & Serving: Elevating the Experience
Post-baking, sprinkle fresh herbs or even a drizzle of olive oil. Cutting the pie after letting it rest ensures intact, beautiful slices. A fresh arugula salad or roasted veggies can be great accompaniments.
Drink Pairings: Elevating the Tomato Pie Experience
The hearty tomato pie, with its melange of flavors, pairs magically with an array of beverages. A full-bodied red wine or even a crisp sauvignon blanc can accentuate the pie’s flavors. For teetotalers, a herb-infused sparkling water or even a robust iced coffee could be delightful accompaniments.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Infamous Tomato Pie
1. Can I use store-bought pie crust for this recipe? Absolutely! While a homemade crust has its charm, a high-quality store-bought version can work wonders, especially when pressed for time.
2. Which variety of tomato works best? Heirloom tomatoes, with their rich flavor profile, are a top choice. However, Roma or even Beefsteak tomatoes, when ripe, can be equally effective.
3. Can I add other vegetables to the pie? Certainly! Thinly sliced bell peppers, zucchini, or even caramelized onions can introduce beautiful flavor variations.
4. How do I store leftover tomato pie? Cover the pie with aluminum foil or store in an airtight container. Refrigerate and consume within 2-3 days for best taste.
5. Can I freeze the tomato pie? While freezing is possible, it might affect the texture of the tomatoes and crust. It’s recommended to consume the pie fresh for the best experience.
6. Are there any vegan alternatives? Absolutely! Use vegan cheeses and a dairy-free crust to make this pie vegan-friendly.
In Conclusion: A Dish Beyond Time
The tomato pie, especially James Beard’s rendition, stands as an emblem of culinary excellence. It’s not just food; it’s an experience, a journey through time and flavors. Its rich history, combined with Beard’s expertise, offers a dish that is both comforting and gourmet.