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Not Quite Yet

This time of year always comes quietly. I call these weeks “bridge weeks”: it’s warm during the day and tomatoes and corn are still at the markets, but the light is a touch more golden and it’s chilly enough in the mornings and evenings to grab your closest sweater. While fall is my favorite season, I find myself going inward a bit in September, wanting to experience the change of seasons without the Internet or  TV forcing it upon me, or Starbucks announcing what seasonal drink I’d likely crave at any given time. We’re fickle people, aren’t we? One week eating stone fruits and discussing the dog days of summer and the next diving head-on into pumpkin breads and cookies. This is why I don’t read many food blogs at the very beginning of fall because I’m not quite ready to jump right into pumpkin breads and cookies. Here at our house, there are still tomatoes to slice, warm walks to take, and backyard picnic table with my name on it.

I recently picked up the most recent (Fall 2012) issue of Gastronomica while playing hooky at Elliot Bay Books with Sam last week. There is a lot to think about in the issue, from articles on food blogs and feminism to an exploration of the cultural significance of lard in the Ukraine, but there’s also a sweet little poem called “Sharing Mason Jars” by Dee Hobsbawn-Smith that touches on those quiet moments between friends in the kitchen just sitting, catching up, “dividing the day, the peaches, the jokes.” The poem closes with, “Linking arms, we pour cream into each other’s coffee/and admire how we have contained/summer’s fading light.” It’s that simple, really: not letting the summer-ness of these days get away from us in the rush to welcome fall.

So here we have tomatoes. Perfect heirloom tomatoes that were begging to be folded into something  substantial enough to have for dinner last weekend. It’s rustic, so don’t expect a savory pie with a crisp crust that slices into perfectly neat, upright slices. There will be messy tomatoes and gooey cheese, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. The crust is a little more puffy and biscuity than traditional pie crust thanks to the leavening and the buttermilk. I’m actually so looking forward to using the same exact crust for a quiche or tart very soon — it’s delightfully soft on the bottom yet crisp around the edges. I played around with the flours, using a good amount of rye flour which I love for its dark earthiness. If you haven’t tried rye flour in pie crusts or scones yet, it’s relatively easy to find in well-stocked grocery stores and bakes up a mean, tasty pie or gallete, as the case may be.

A few quick notes on the recipe: Because the dough has more liquid than other doughs, it can be a little tough to handle. The recipe says to roll it in between two pieces of plastic wrap, but I always find that fussy. I say to work quickly, use flour liberally on the surface where you work, and don’t be afraid to patch away when little (or big) cracks or holes emerge as you’re laying the round of dough into the pie pan. It happened with me here, and you’d never know. Just snip a little piece of extra dough and lightly press it into a spot that needs it. This is such a rustic pie, it really doesn’t matter so try not to stress about the dough on this one. It’s not supposed to be perfect. For tomatoes, I used heirlooms but they do have more moisture than, say, a Roma tomato so do slice them relatively thinly and don’t skip the step where you let them drain. The bottom crust of the pie was pleasantly soft, but I could imagine it veering on soggy if you didn’t let the tomatoes drain well.

Quick Aside: If you’re curious about whole grains and whole-grain flours, it’s Whole Grain Week over on The Kitchn, and I’m focusing on a lot of breakfast-type things, so I’ll see you there. And hey, we’ll do something fall-ish soon. Until then, I’ll be donning flip-flops and working on the laptop in the backyard.

Whole-Grain Tomato Cheddar Pie
This recipe originally appeared in Bon Appetit last summer, and I’ve had my eyes on it ever since. I lightened it up this by replacing the mayonnaise with plain yogurt. I also swapped 1/2 of the all-purpose white-flour with the ever-wonderful rye flour, added a touch less sugar and a smattering of chives. The result is a savory, delightful mess of a tomato pie. I can’t help but think how wonderful this would be with fresh corn kernels from 1 ear of summer corn or quickly-sauteed zucchini slices. This pie has room for you to add a little of this and a little of that (sauteed kale  or spinach would be nice, too)

Adapted from: Bon Appetit 

Serves: 6-8

For the Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup buttermilk

For the Filling:
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar (8-9 oz)
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan (1/2 oz)
1 scallion, trimmed, chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh or dried chopped chives
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons course-ground cornmeal

To make the crust:
Whisk first five ingredients together in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms and some small lumps remain. Using a fork, stir in buttermilk  to ensure that all the dry ingredients have been combined with the wet. The dough will be sticky but should also be uniform. Form 1 single disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to one day.

To make the filling/pie:
Lay tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with 2 layers of paper towels. Place another 2 layers of paper towels on top of tomatoes. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to drain away some of the liquid.

Preheat oven to 425 F. On a well-floured surface, roll dough out into an 11″ round. Try to work quickly as the dough will be more difficult the more it warms ups. Invert dough onto pie dish and nestle it in so the edges all but right up to the pie pan. Try not to handle too much. If the dough tears or develops snags, simply patch them and move on–it’s a rustic pie and no one will ever know.

Toss both cheeses in a medium bowl until evenly incorporated. Reserve 1/4 cup of cheese for the very top. Whisk scallion, yogurt, chives, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle cornmeal evenly over bottom of crust, then top with 1/2 cup of cheese mixture. Arrange 1/3 of tomatoes over cheese, overlapping as needed. Spread half of yogurt mixture (about 1/3 cup) over top as best you can. Repeat layering with 1 cup of cheese mixture, 1/2 of remaining tomato slices and remaining yogurt mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Fold overhanging crust up and over edges of tomato slices. Crimp as desired.

Bake until pie crust is golden and cheese has melted and turned slightly golden, 35-40 minutes. let pie cool at least 1 hour and up to 3 before slicing/serving. While the pie is best enjoyed the day its made, cover and refrigerate and serve the next day.

 

 

 

  1. Posted September 12, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Dear Megan, Long-time reader, occasional commenter here, writing to say that I’d rather enjoyed said tomato cheddar tart, and found it rather brilliant, exactly on such a summer day as this great holdout of a season did produce. I thought I might also mention that there are two names on that picnic table in the backyard. That’s right.

    Great crust! Great tomatoes! Great lunch!
    -Sam!

  2. Posted September 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    That tomato-cheddar pie looks so good! Last week I did a frittata much like this, but with Parmesan and thyme. I love the look of that rustic crust, though.

  3. Posted September 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    What a great way to enjoy those tomatoes! I say hold on to summer for as long as you can! :)

  4. Posted September 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I have been loving these late summer days, and feeling lucky to get them. The tart looks gorgeous, that summery sunset lake shot even better.

    Enjoy the days!

  5. Posted September 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Oh I love the sound of this pie/ tart… I am JUST getting to grips with pastry and will have to give this one a go. Gorgeous!

  6. susan
    Posted September 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I am so excited to try this. On family vacations on the Outer Banks in North Carolina this is a favorite from a deli in Duck! My sister is visiting so I’m making it this weekend.

    And Megan, I would love to see you!

  7. eric G
    Posted September 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Sounds like a fantastic alternative to our tasty meal last night of homemade heirloom tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (on sourdough but I like the rye idea too). I may just have to bake a pie! I have to wonder if the kitchen & better half can handle the mess I’d make! :)

  8. Posted September 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    yay for the not quite end of summer! Glad you’re not jumping into pumpkins like everyone else. I’m not ready either.

  9. Posted September 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Fall is my favorite season, too, and I tend to jump the gun this time of year and want to scurry through the last weeks of summer and immerse myself in autumn. Thank you for the reminder to stay in the present and look around!

  10. Mary
    Posted September 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Beautiful photography. Would like that pie now.

  11. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

    I’ll have to pick up that issue to read the full poem. The excerpts you shared sounded lovely!

  12. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I’ve made something similar but I like the sound of this and will definitely pick up some local tomatoes soon to give this a go. Hooray for playing hooky and late summer sun.

  13. Posted September 13, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I love the NW this time of year, especially time spent on the deck.

    How’s your garden? Each time you pop-up in my feed reader I wonder how it’s going.

  14. Posted September 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Yum! Might try it this weekend.

  15. Posted September 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Gastronomica! I had forgotten about Gastronomica. Read it for years. Before I had three. Thanks for the reminder; feels like a postcard from an old friend.

    Happy still-summer to you, Megan :)

    M

  16. Posted September 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I love this post, and I feel the same way about the last few weeks of summer. I want to relish them and not hurry too quickly into fall, even though I adore it.
    This savory pie looks scrumptious — thank you so much for sharing!

  17. Posted September 14, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Megan, This post summed up how I’ve been feeling lately and this pie looks fantastic. I have a big bowl of tomatoes that now have a purpose…

  18. megang
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Hi, Ashley! The garden is good … winding down a bit. We have kale, carrots and beets now. We also have cabbage that has literally taken since May to finally grow some little cabbages. And it’s taking up an entire raised bed all on its own. I have no clue why anyone would ever grow cabbage! I’m excited for the kale to get a touch larger and to harvest those beets. Happy Friday, m

  19. Posted September 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

    You said what I’ve been thinking for weeks! I keep feeling like I need to file away all of my summer recipes -for peaches, tomatoes, and corn…but truth be told, they’re some of the best I’ve tasted all summer and I can’t help continuing to enjoy them well into September. Love this idea for a savory pie! xo

  20. megang
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I’d love that too, Susan! Emailing you now …

  21. megang
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks, Mardi! This dough isn’t the easiest, but like I said, you can just patch away and no one will ever know. Hope you’re well. xx, m

  22. megang
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks, Tara! Yes, I’m saving these days up for the moments in February where I start to wonder why the heck people live in a place that gets dark at 4. Hope you had a good week, friend.

  23. megang
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Eric- Oh, I’m sure that better half would understand. I’ve been craving tomato soup something fierce lately, so your meal sounds pretty wonderful. Bake a pie! Do it! Miss you guys, m

  24. Posted September 16, 2012 at 4:31 am

    We’re still in tomato mode here, too. Feels good. Enjoy these days. xo.

  25. Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Messy tomatoes and gooey cheese are two of my most favorite things. This looks just perfect.

  26. Posted September 19, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I simply love heirloom tomatoes and your pie looks totally scrumptious:) Btw: the beautiful light in the second photo makes me swoon:) xo

  27. Posted September 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Wow this looks amazingly delish and rich. I wouldn’t mind having some of this on a nice porch looking at the sky and green fields or something of that sort~haha. I’m daydreaming here!

  28. Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Ugh, love this. That poem is wonderful. I so agree with you. September is a funny month that way. And while I am, indeed, dreaming of pumpkin-centric foods in all their glory, I am not at all ready to let go of tomatoes, not until they’re completely done.

  29. Posted September 23, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Our local Edible Boston had a very similar recipe in their Fall tomato feature. Can’t wait to try this one. – Gayle

  30. Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I made this recipe recently for my folks during a visit home to Virginia and they loved it. Enjoyed outside, sun setting. Thanks for being an inspiration, Megan! Take care.

  31. K
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Although this is an old post, I can’t help but sympathize with it! Summer is rapidly dwindling in the city of brotherly love and the fall semester is just around the corner–too soon!

    To get back to the recipe–it is by far one of the greatest things I’ve made/eaten in quite some time!

    Thank you!

  32. megang
    Posted August 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! It’s about time I make that again around here – so delicious. Thank you for the comment, Megan

  33. robin lewis
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    any make-ahead/freeze/bake later tips?

  34. robin lewis
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    p.s. if freezing isn’t a good idea, can this pie at least be made ahead and baked after a few hours or so (or overnite) after assembling? always searching for make-ahead dishes that make good gifts to help others out…

  35. megang
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Robin-
    Oh, I hear you on the make-ahead dinner front, for sure. You know, I bake dozens of different kinds of sweet pies and freeze them pre and post bake, but I wouldn’t feel super confident doing so with this tomato pie mainly because of the tricky moisture balance. If anything, I’d try freezing it BEFORE you bake it off; I think that’d be far more successful than baking and then freezing. If you try it, do let me know how it goes … I just find baking with juicy summer tomatoes can be tricky enough as it is. Enjoy the week + thank you for your note, Megan

  36. robin lewis
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    this was really really delicious, thank you. i doubled the recipe, though, and maybe i shouldn’t have doubled the kosher salt…? that would be my only question: i love salt and salty dishes, but i wonder of doubling it in this case might have been a tad too much salt…still, delicious.

  37. megang
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Hi, Robin-
    So happy you enjoyed the recipe. It’s always hard to get a recipe perfect when doubling, tripling etc … especially with dishes like pie etc. I find this the most with salt and spices — they’re the ones that tend to take a little finessing. If I were you, I’d do 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt when you double it and see how that tastes. Luckily, if it feels a little under-salted to you, you could always add a few flakes of Maldons at the end, to top. Best of luck and enjoy the recipe! ~Megan

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