Now is the season for truly delicious tomatoes — in every variety. And this pie recipe lets you revel in all their juicy glory.
I won't insult your intelligence by gushing on about the glories of late-summer tomatoes. I know you get it. But these days, we're all so accustomed to eating tomatoes year-round that I have to say: They are truly superior right now. August through September is the absolute height of tomato season.
Try this pie with any variety of tomatoes you'd like, and feel free to mix them up — cherries with grapes with vine-ripes with yellows with greens with beefsteaks, oh my! The ones that provide immediate variations in size, color, and deliciousness are the heirloom varieties, which is why I call this dish what I do, but honestly, there's no way to go wrong with any mix.
Another thing about this recipe is that it gives me a chance to share with you my great secret about baking. It's life-changing. Ready?
I make pies, quiches, and tarts in rectangular sheet pans instead of those hard-to-deal-with (at least for me) round pie plates. I'm a bit of a klutz on the baking front, but this simple adjustment has transformed me into a pro — and I know it will work wonders for you, too! Just double the crusts and fillings for any 8- or 9-inch round-pie recipe, and you'll have the proper quantities for a rectangular 9-by-13-inch sheet pan.
Then, when you go to cut your scrumptious servings, use any-size cookie or biscuit cutter for elegant rounds, or a knife for squares or "fingers." Presto! Just like that, you'll transform a savory or sweet pie, quiche, or tart into a sumptuous first course, a magnificent side dish, or a decadent passed hors d'oeuvre or dessert.
Not to be a pain, but I really want you to make my Perfect Homemade Mayonnaise for this dish. It has half the oil of regular mayonnaise, and will completely change your Heirloom Tomato Pie. If time is tight, make it up to four days ahead and store it in a super-tightly wrapped container in your fridge. It'll be ready when you are.
Another thing: piecrust. Below is my recipe for a foolproof piecrust, which I call pâte brisée. Try it, because there's really nothing to it, but if you're not swayed, go ahead and buy a premade dough that you can roll out. Just make sure it's all-natural and contains real butter, please! Those simple distinctions make a world of difference every time.
Happy cooking! Love, Alex.
For the Pie
Yield: 8–10 servings
2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
1½ teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, halved, then sliced thin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup homemade mayonnaise
1 cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1 medium shallot, peeled
1 green onion
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese, firmly packed
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, firmly packed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
1 to 1½ tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Place the tomato slices on a rack. Salt both sides, using 1½ teaspoons salt total. Let the slices drain for at least an hour to remove excess water.
3. Roll out the pâte brisée or premade crust, and press it into the buttered pan. Poke it all over with a fork, and bake until brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
4. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foaming has subsided, sauté the onions until slightly soft, a couple of minutes, and then add the garlic. Continue to sauté until the onions and garlic are translucent, approximately 10 to 12 minutes total.
5. Place the homemade mayonnaise, basil leaves, parsley, shallot, and green onion in the bowl of a food processor, and blend until the mixture is green and fully mixed, approximately 1 minute.
6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise mixture, Gruyère, cheddar, and ½ cup Parmesan, stirring thoroughly.
7. Spread mayonnaise-cheese mixture evenly over the cooled crust.
8. Place sautéed onions and garlic evenly on top of mayonnaise mixture, and arrange the drained tomato slices in a pretty pattern on top of everything.
9. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan and coarsely ground black pepper, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
10. Let pie rest for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold with additional basil mayonnaise.
For the Perfect Homemade Mayonnaise
Yield: 1 cup
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
¾ cup neutral-tasting vegetable oil
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except the oil.
2. Process ingredients until the yolks are thick and sticky, about 2 minutes.
3. Continue to process, adding the oil slowly in a steady stream through the opening in the top of the processor, making sure it is getting fully incorporated. Once all the oil has been added, the mayonnaise should be thick, luxurious, and fully emulsified.
For the Pâte Brisée
You can buy ready-made crust, but this is my standard, foolproof recipe, the exact quantity for a 9 × 13 baking pan
2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons tasteless vegetable oil
5 tablespoons ice water
1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse all ingredients together until coarse crumbs form. Do not over-process, or the crust will be tough.
2. Pour crumbs out onto a floured surface, and knead a couple of time to bring them together.
3. Roll dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for at least an hour in refrigerator, before rolling out to desired thickness.
4. Prick with a fork, and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, and let completely cool before filling.
Photos by Victoria Pearson