There are a bunch of words that come to mind when I think about summer—“beach”, “flip flops”, “sunscreen”, “mosquitoes”, and, especially here on Long Island—“hot” and “tomatoes”. Back in the 1920s, perhaps I myself would have been referred to as a “hot tomatah” (or possibly “tomater”) by some swell fella who thought I was the bee’s knees, but in today’s world, a hot tomato pie calls to mind a melting, mouthwatering, fragrant combination of tomatoes, cheese and herbs presented in a rich, crumbly, buttery golden pie crust. I’m telling you, if I had a choice between making out with a dapper sugar daddy or scarfing a piece of this pie….well, I’d make out with Daddy-O, but the pie would be a gosh-darned close second.
This dish is traditionally a southern favorite, but since luscious, ripe tomatoes are in abundance in summertime, I don’t see any reason that this can’t be a local favorite up North here as well…especially since the recipe contains almost all of the elements of that quintessential Long Island favorite, that long-standing gastronomic tradition on which every, single kid on this great Island is weaned upon as soon as their first tooth comes in—PIZZA!!! Only this kind of pie is in a quite different, albeit delectable, design. While you may be reluctant to turn on your oven in the heat of the season, it’s totally worth it for the ooey, gooey, deliciousness of this lip-smacking pie….so just crank up the air conditioning for a bit and bake away!
4 large red, ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 9-inch frozen pie crust, pre-baked for 12 minutes
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ lb of shredded cheese, I like a combination of aged cheddar and Gruyere, but any melting cheese will do
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced fine
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread mustard evenly on bottom of prepared pie crust after it has cooled slightly. Then, sprinkle a small amount of the cheese across the bottom to cover. On top of the cheese, evenly place slices of tomato in one layer and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on more cheese, then another tomato layer and season, then more cheese, then finish the top with the last of the tomatoes (save the prettiest, most perfect slices for the top) and season again. In a small bowl, combine mayo, Parmesan cheese, garlic and thyme until thoroughly mixed. With a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, spread an even layer of mayo mixture over the top of the tomatoes, kind of like frosting a cake. A bit of tomato can peek through, but the top should be mostly covered. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the top turns golden brown and bubbly. Let the pie rest for 15 minutes to set before slicing into wedges (so all the hot cheese and juicy tomato won’t run out), and serve with a side of mixed greens dressed in a simple vinaigrette or your favorite salad.