When I think of summer in the South, I think of my childhood days at the beach where the food seemed to center around fresh ripe red tomatoes, slightly spicy pimento cheese, and fresh fruit pies. The days were filled with salt air and ocean and the evenings meant family around the table.
This summer I am up in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Other than that little has changed. I make a mean pimento cheese; my tomato plants are laden with deep red orbs of deliciousness; and pies are my thing. So I put them all together and created a Pimento Cheese Tomato Pie.
Tomatoes contain a lot of water and that’s not something you want in a pie. I began the day before by oven drying some sliced tomatoes. This removes a lot of moistures and also concentrates the yummy tomato flavor.
(If you don’t have time for this step you can make the pie anyway. Just prepare all the tomatoes by slicing them, salting them and laying them on paper towels while you make the pie crust.)
For the pie crust, I am referring you back to a recipe from last summer when I traveled to Alaska (remember those days when you could travel???). There I was fortunate meet Chef Laura Cole and came away with her pastry recipe. You will find the recipe on my blog, Alaska: Mountains, Sea, Ice and Pastry
Once the pastry has rested in the refrigerator, roll it out and place it in a 9” pan. Again, because tomatoes equal water, blind bake the pie crust and let it cool before continuing on.
While the pie crust is baking prep your other ingredients.
Sauté some bacon pieces and set them aside.
Caramelize sliced onion over a low heat in some of the bacon fat.
Dice some pimentos and chop some fresh basil.
Grate Chedder Cheese and some Gouda. Add the pimentos then stir them together with mayonnaise (it has to be Dukes to be truly Southern!). Add some Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the pie!
Start with a layer of oven-dried tomatoes, then layer on onions, bacon and basil. Repeat this again and end with a layer of fresh tomatoes (the ones you salted!)
Finally spread the Pimento Cheese over the top.
And bake it until the tomatoes are warmed and cooked and the cheese is melted and browned.
MMmmmmmm, Summer in the South!
(You know what? This would be a great dish to take to a show by the Montford Park Players! Of course there are no free live performances this summer. You could help us make sure there is one next year by visiting the website of the Montford Park Players and making a donation. Big or small!)
PIMENTO CHEESE TOMATO PIE
- ½ Laura Cole’s Pastry Recipe link in notes below
- 5 -6 medium ripe tomatoes
- 4 slabs bacon sliced in ¼ inch slices
- 1 medium onion sliced thin
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- 2/3 cup grated Cheddar cheese
- 2/3 cup grated Gouda cheese
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- ¼- ½ cup chopped peppadew peppers
- ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- Slice three of the tomatoes into ¼” thick slices. Place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake in a medium low oven (250 degrees) for 2 ½ -3 ½ hours until dried. Cool.
- Slice the remaining tomatoes and layer on some paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and cover with another paper towel. Leave to drain for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare the pie crust according to the directions.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Roll ½ of the pastry out to a fit a 9” pie pan. (Reserve the rest of the pastry for another use.) Crimp the edges if desired. Cover and rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pie crust all over. Line the crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (dried beans or uncooked rice will work too).
- Bake in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights by lifting out the paper or foil. Cool to room temperature.
- Fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and pour out all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Lower the heat and sauté the onions in the bacon fat until soft and caramelized.
- Mix together the cheeses and pimentos. Add the mayonnaise and the Worcestershire sauce and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Assemble the pie by layering first the oven dried tomatoes in the crust, top with half of the onions, bacon and basil, repeat and finish with a layer of the fresh, salted tomatoes.
- Carefully spread the pimento cheese over the top reaching to the edges.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned.
- Let the pie cool for 30 minutes so it will set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The oven dried tomatoes can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the refrigerator
The second half of the pie crust will keep in the refrigerator for a week or can be frozen for future use.
All of the ingredients can be prepped in advance. Assemble the pie just before baking.