Summer is here! And really it has been here for quite a little while now. It starts much earlier than the June 21st official first day. The weather here in South Carolina has been warm since the start of May and it will continue to be warm through most of October. This is nothing new and it’s certainly something we’ve come to love. Being from New England, we don’t miss snow, and we especially don’t miss shoveling the sidewalks and cleaning off the cars before going somewhere. However, what we do miss when the weather isn’t as warm here as we’d like it to be is fresh tomatoes!
Now here we are in mid-August and the tomatoes have been ready at our local Farmer’s Market and there is no shortage of tomato varieties to choose from. Our favorites are the large heirloom varieties with their odd shapes and unbelievable color schemes.
We’ve found that it doesn’t seem to matter what varieties we choose for our tomato pie, it all comes out delicious and leaves us right back where we started, wanting more tomato pie.
The recipe we use is one that we came up with when we decided that tomato pie would be a great summertime dinner. We had an abundance of ripe tomatoes and really it would be a shame to let them go to waste.
Now just a caveat, before we get started. When it comes to our food, we eat mostly paleo. Which means we emphasize “real” food. Organically raised, grass fed and finished beef, pastured pork, free range chicken, wild caught seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. It’s not difficult to follow and we have enjoyed eating this way for some years now. Although we don’t follow this when it comes to beverages, because that just wouldn’t be any fun.
Whatever tomatoes you have, it’s very important that you slice them early. The reason being is because tomatoes are extremely moist, they contain a lot of water. All that water doesn’t play so well when you’re trying to bake a pie. So, again, slice them early and lay them out, we use our drying racks to keep them spread out and slightly elevated. Then we salt one side, and don’t be shy with the salt because it will only enhance the flavor in the pie. Let them drain for several hours on one side, two to three if you can. Then flip them and repeat.
The second part to a good tomato pie is the filling, and the traditional filling is usually some sort of cheese mix. Although this is a delicious route to take it certainly isn’t paleo friendly. So we decided that using nut cheese would be a viable option. It may not sound super great, but trust us it’s amazing and we don’t think you’ll miss the regular stuff.
12 oz of raw cashews.
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, more to taste
salt & pepper to taste
3-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, more if need be
Soak the cashews for 6 hours in a bowl of water. Just enough water to cover all the cashews. After the 6 hours drain the nuts and combine all the cashews with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Blend together adding one tbsp of oil at a time. Continue to blend adding one tbsp of oil until smooth. You want it really, really smooth. You may have to stop several time to mix down the nut cheese, and be sure to taste as you go. You might want more salt or pepper. Once you’ve got the taste you want, set the nut cheese aside.
A great tomato pie wouldn’t be much good without a good crust. A golden-brown, flaky, savory crust. That being said making a paleo friendly pie crust is not something we were able to do on our own. However, several years ago Kayla bought me a cookbook call “Beyond Bacon” by Matthew McCarry. In his book he emphasizes the need to respect and use the whole hog in cooking. One of the dishes in the book is an amazing cucumber and sausage quiche. Little did we know that this quiche would become the foundation for our tomato pie! The crust recipe belongs to them and you should check out their cookbook for more great recipes!
For the crust:
1/2 cup of pasture raise pork lard, very cold. Freeze for 10 minutes (you can get this from a lot of groceries now a days, or from your local farmer)
1/2 cup of blanched almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp of very cold water
1) In a mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, slowly mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, and tapioca flour.
2) Using 1/2 inch cubes of the very cold lard, cut the lard into the flours with a fork or pastry cutter. Continue to do this until a crumbly mixture forms.
3) Add the salt. The, add the cold water one tbsp at a time, using a fork or pastry cutter to incorporate each one.
4) Form the dough into a disk by hand, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes or until you are ready to roll it out.
5) On top of a wide layer of plastic wrap, roll out the dough into a 10-12 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. As there is no gluten or eggs as binding proteins in this crust recipe, the dough will still be slightly crumbly. Handle it carefully. If areas begin to crack, simply bind them back together by pinching the dough with your fingers and lightly rolling it out where the indentation has formed.
6) When ready, turn the 9- inch pie pan upside down on top of the center of the crust. Wrap the edges of the plastic wrap around the backside of the pie pan, and gently flip the crust and pan over. The crust will easily fall into place, but some cracks might need to be fixed as noted in the previous step.
7) Remove the plastic wrap, and crimp the edges of the crust with a fork. Dock the poking holes in the bottom with a fork.
8) To prebake the crust, bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Once you’ve baked your crust it’s time to assemble the rest of the pie!
Add a layer of nut cheese followed by a layer of tomatoes. Continue this nut cheese, tomato layering until the pie is complete. If you have leftover cheese or tomatoes don’t worry it makes a delicious snack.
Bake the pie at 375 degree for 35 minutes, keeping an eye on the crust to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Something we like to do is cook up some bacon and slice it up finely. Then once the pie comes out spread the bacon bits over the top. It’s absolutely amazing!
Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve!
Tomato pie is best enjoyed with friends and if you so choose an ice cold beverage!
The pie pictured in the post is a slight variation on the normal pie. We had some homemade pesto in the fridge that we had used for another delicious meal and we decided to spread that into the layers with this pie. Well let me tell you, it may have been the best tomato pie we’ve made yet! Basil and tomato are never a bad combination and add bacon to that, we found something pretty darn good.