There’s a spectrum to Tomato Pies. There are the Tomato Pies that think themselves Apple Pies: double crusted, savory but spiced, and very very wet….
There are the Tomato Pies that should really be called Cheese Pie and the good Lord knows there’s not a thing wrong with those pies and the grace and joy they bring to the world.
Then there’s this: part tomato pie, part quiche, heavy on the ricotta, very fine indeed.
We’re letting tomatoes (are you growing your own? That’s my daydream for you), have their time to shine, bound in creamy egg and herbed cheese.
It’s breakfast, lunch and definitely dinner. Perfect weekend vibes, so let’s!
Here’s what you’ll need for this tomato endeavour. Grab yourself an onion and a few big ol’ cloves of garlic. Fresh parsley and fresh thyme. Milk, eggs, and ricotta are our dairy.
And tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. I used about 2 pints of cherry tomatoes: small red cherry tomatoes and bigger heirloom cherry tomatoes. Use whatcha got and whatcha like!
I happened to have a pie crust in my refrigerator from last Tuesday’s Facebook Live pie baking class. That sounds like a humble-brag. I just have pie on the brain.
I’m not going to be shy about enthusiasm for cheese. Ricotta with a handful of fresh parsley and plenty of salt and pepper will sit nestled into the tomatoes. If you’re thinking this is reminiscent of lasagna… you’re exactly right.
Whole eggs meet whole milk, fresh thyme, salt and pepper.
If you notice, we’re salting and seasoning just about every element of our pie. Seasoning the cheese. Seasoning the eggs. Lightly seasoning every element ensures that out tart is going to be balanced.
Onions are cooked slowly over low heat until they just begin to caramelize. I like to leave garlic cloves whole and smashed, adding them to the onions to cook slowly.
Big garlic bites!
I used a tart shell for this pie. They tend to be slightly more shallow than a traditional pie pan, so we’ll adjust the recipe below.
Since we’re adding so many moist elements to our pie, it’s best to pre-bake the crust. Trust me, every lazy bone in my body (and there are quite a few of them) rages against pre-baking the crust… but it’s important.
To pre-bake a crust, first make sure it’s chilled in the pie or tart pan. Line the pan with foil, and layer dried beans or pie weights on top and up the sides of the foil. The weight will help keep the crust from rising on the bottom and sinking on the sides. Remove the foil after about 12 minutes and bake a bit longer until the crust firms a bit. Effort well spent, I promise.
The pre-baked pie shell won’t take on a tremendous amount of color but it will stand up to all the tomatoes and cheese.
Onions and garlic are layered across the bottom of the crust.
Tomatoes. It’s time to add em.
With the larger tomatoes, I slice them in half and scoop out some of their seeds. Pro-tip to avoid sogginess.
Sliced and not. Large and small. Add a lot.
Generous spoonfuls of herby ricotta are nestled into the tomatoes.
Work them in there. More is more. Thank you, cheese.
The egg mixture is poured over the tomatoes and ricotta in the pie. I find it easiest to do this close to the heated oven, reducing the likelihood of spillage from counter to oven.
Roasted tomatoes, baked cheese, roasted garlic bites in there too. It’s delicious and creamy. Super satisfying just warm or at room temperature. Celebrating summer. I hope it brings happiness to your heart.
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup cold buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, skin removed and cloves smashed
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- about 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 heaping cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- To make the pie crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers (or a potato masher), work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.
- On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Gently knead into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
- To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a tart pan. Trim the edges to be flush with the tart pan. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes while the oven preheats. Chilling the dough will help it not sink along the sides as it prebakes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven.
- Line the tart pan with foil. Add dried beans to weigh down the pie crust (or pie weights), spreading the beans up along the sides of the foil lined tart too. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to rest while you assemble the filling.
- To make the filling, in a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the smashed garlic and half of the fresh thyme. Cook on low heat, stirring just a few times, for 5 minutes, until the garlic is just softened. Remove from heat.
- Slice half of the cherry tomatoes in half. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, remaining thyme, and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
- In a small bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, parsley, and another good pinch of salt and pepper. Now we have all of our elements!
- In the pre-baked crust, layer the onions and garlic across the bottom. Add tomatoes, sliced and whole to the tart dish. Load em up! Nestle ricotta in four or five dollops across the tart. Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. I do this next part next to the oven. Carefully pour the egg mixture atop the tomatoes and ricotta and place in the oven.
- Bake until egg mixture is firm and not wet, about 40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to a warm room temperature. Serve room temperature or chilled.
- I made this Tomato Pie in a tart shell. If you're using a traditional pie dish add an additional egg and an additional 3 tablespoons of whole milk.