Tomatoes are the last true summer crop that I grab from the garden. The shift comes as swiftly as the fall back to standard time: one deep temperature swing makes every green fruit still on the vine inedible. Each fall, I follow weather forecasts, gamble on their accuracy, and try to pluck every fully formed tomato before the first killing frost.
Even if I succeed, the reward isn’t the perfectly red, juicy treats I’ve been feasting on all summer. It’s boxes of hard, underripe tomatoes. Some I’ll eat or preserve while green, but most sit for weeks beside my desk, where I watch them gradually ripen.
These tomatoes never match the bright, sweet bite of sun-kissed midsummer fruit, but I treasure them as the season’s final flush. Rather than eating them out of hand, I’ve found that letting them cook slowly, like in this savory pie, maximizes their maturing flavor.
Late-Season Tomato Pie
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crumbled
1 9-inch pie crust, such as Herb and Cheese Pie Crust
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Start preheating the oven to 400°F. Place the tomato and onion slices in a medium bowl, toss gently with the salt and pepper, and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stir and cook the oil, garlic, bread crumbs, and rosemary for about 4 minutes, until the garlic is golden.
When the oven is ready, fit the crust into its pie plate and prick it all over with a fork. Bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly firm; remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
In layers, fill the prebaked pie crust with the tomato and onion slices, mozzarella, and bread crumb mixture, using your fingers or a slotted spoon to let excess liquid drain from the tomatoes back into the bowl. Top the final layer of bread crumbs with the parmesan. Bake at 400°F for 25–30 minutes, until hot and lightly brown. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving; it is also delicious at room temperature. Serves 4 as a main dish and 8 as a side.
Tips & Tricks
- You can use any crust for this recipe: traditional or gluten-free, store bought or premade and frozen, or my favorite: a freshly made savory crust that complements the flavors in the pie.
- Although I love this pie in fall to enhance the flavor of late-ripening tomatoes, it can be made with fresh tomatoes, of any variety, at any point in the growing season. If using cherry tomatoes, simply cut them in half.
- The steps that salt the tomatoes and cook the bread crumbs have a purpose: reducing the natural moisture in the recipe. You could skip these, but the filling could make the crust soggy.
- There are plenty of ways to boost the flavor in this dish. The onion can be caramelized or grilled. The garlic can be grilled or roasted. The cheeses can be cold-smoked. And if you’re creating fresh bread crumbs, capture the taste of sourdough.
Twice as Tasty
I cook imperfect, house-ripened tomatoes into many dishes: the longer they cook, the better the flavor. I often use them in recipes that I created for frozen tomatoes. These include turning them into a slow-cooked pasta or pizza sauce, a mac and cheese dish, or a warming soup, as well as this pie.
Savory tomato pie can become an easy brunch, lunch, or dinner with a basic store-bought or premade and frozen crust. But if you have a little extra time, a savory crust packed with cheese and herbs brings out the flavor in the filling. I make my version of Grandma Tiny’s simple crust but mix in some cheese and herbs. A hard cheese like parmesan doesn’t affect the overall texture of the crust.
Once you get into the idea of flavoring your crusts, you can play with versions for many meals. Continue with the savory cheesy route and complementary herbs for quiche. Put a hint of spice in the dough for a galette. Add both herbs and cheese to the crust of sourdough pizza.
Herb and Cheese Pie Crust
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup grated parmesan or asiago
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons ice-cold water
Make the crust like you would for Nearly Perfect Pie Crust but with the savory additions: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, thyme, and cheese. Work in the butter and coconut oil with your fingertips until the dough becomes mealy. Drizzle in a tablespoon of water at a time, working it in briefly with your fingers, until the dough starts to cling together. On a piece of parchment paper, press the dough into a disk, wrap it up, and chill for at least 1 hour.
When ready to use the dough, such as for Late-Season Tomato Pie, remove the disk from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until the diameter is at least 1 inch larger than the top of a 9-inch pie plate. Spread the dough in the pie plate, trimming away any that hangs more than an inch over the edge. Flute the remaining dough along the lip of the pie plate, folding it up to the rim and pinching it between your thumb and forefinger to form a wavy edge. Makes 1 single crust.
Tips & Tricks
- If you’re new to making pie crust, or have never been successful, check out my Nearly Perfect Pie post for some empathy and encouragement. It gives more detailed steps and tips beyond those I share here.
- Pie dough can stay refrigerated as a disk for several days or can be transferred to a zip-close freezer bag and frozen for future use. When you’re making crust, consider doubling the recipe and then dividing the dough and freezing one disk for a later quick meal.
- As with sweet pie crust, extra pastry can be rolled out and baked as a snack. It can go into the oven at the same temperature as the prebaked crust but only needs 6–8 minutes. Before the final minute, remove it from the oven and sprinkle it with mozzarella before baking until the cheese melts.
Get more fun recipes in my cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling. Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy directly from me. I share more tasty ways to use pickles in The Pickled Picnic, a digital collection in an easy-to-read PDF format. It’s available exclusively through Twice as Tasty.