Ever been in the Deep South in the deep of summer? It’s hot. Hothouse hot. That makes the land just about ideal for tomatoes. Along the byways you’ll see acres and acres of green leaves studded with red balls. At times it seems you would be knee deep in tomatoes if you got out of that car of yours. But you aren’t going to do that, are you? You want the air conditioning.
Folks in the South know how to enjoy that tomato abundance. Tomato sandwiches with mayo on white bread are a tradition. And, from that beginning, comes this Tomato Pie filled with tomatoes, pimentos, scallions, and, yes, the ever present mayonnaise.
This recipe comes from Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook by Perre Coleman Magness. This pie presentation is authentic and complete, right down to Perre’s recipe for a perfect pie crust.
When July rolls around and you see the stacks of tomatoes at your farmers market, remember this idea. Just get that jar of mayo at the store on the way home!
Pimento Cheese Tomato Pie
Yield: serves 6
For the pie pastry:
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
For the tomato pie:
- 3 large tomatoes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pastry for one 9-inch pie crust (see above)
- 8 scallions, white and palest green parts only, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- One 4-ounce jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 garlic clove
MAKE THE PIE PASTRY: Put the flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse a few times to combine. Drop in the small pieces of cold butter and pulse several times until the mixture is crumbly, but some minute pieces of butter are still visible. Sprinkle the ice water over, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse to combine. When the pastry dough just comes together, dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a disk about 3A inch thick. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.
PREPARE THE TOMATOES: Cut the ends off the tomatoes and discard, then slice them about V2 inch thick. Lay the tomato slices on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt. Let the tomatoes sit for at least an hour, turning them over after 30 minutes and salting the opposite sides. Sprinkle the second side with black pepper as well.
When ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and place the pastry disk on a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a round about 14 inches in diameter, large enough to fit a Winch pie plate. Carefully drape the pastry over the rolling pin and transfer to the pie dish. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pie dish. Cover the pastry shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or ceramic pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, remove the paper and weights, and set the pie crust aside to cool.
ASSEMBLE THE PIE: When the crust has completely cooled, layer half the tomato slices over the bottom. Sprinkle the scallions, parsley, and half of the pimentos over the tomatoes, then V2 cup of the grated cheddar cheese. Layer the remaining tomatoes on top.
Mix together the mayonnaise, the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese, remaining pimentos, and paprika in a small bowl. Put the garlic through a press or very finely mince it with a sharp knife and stir it into the mayonnaise. Spread the mixture over the tomatoes, spreading it all the way to the edges.
Bake the pie at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and the top. Let the pie cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving
Source: Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook by Perre Coleman Magness [St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014]
Photograph by Jennifer Davick