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Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie

Serves 8

4 lbs heirloom tomatoes of different colors
1 tbsp coarse kosher salt

Pie Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tbsp
2 ½ - (4 oz) sticks unsalted butter, cubed, chilled
1 ½ tsp coarse kosher salt
¾ cup ice water

To assemble:
18 sun-dried tomatoes
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup olive oil
2 cups finely chopped white onion
¼ cup finely chopped garlic
½ cup chopped Kalamata olives
¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ cup whole milk
2 whole eggs
1 small bunch basil, chopped
2 ½ cups arugula, chopped
2 cups grated Asiago cheese
12 thin slices Sottocenere cheese, optional

It's tomato season! Right now, Chef Hugo is once again offering the Seasonal Tomato Menu at Backstreet Cafe, and the Tomato Pie is one of diners' favorites. The recipe is inBackstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from our Neighborhood Cafe, but we thought we'd share it with you online. So get out there and pick the tomatoes in your garden and get slicing!

This is a southern low-country classic. It's a nostalgic dish that brings back memories of grandma's homegrown tomatoes. I asked Hugo to recreate his own interpretation of this recipe to make when the Texas tomatoes are in their peak season. It is a lot of work but is worth making for a special lunch party or family gathering, when the heirloom tomatoes are plentiful at the farmers market.


Prepare tomatoes (8 hours ahead or overnight): Slice heirloom tomatoes, crosswise, into ¼-inch thick slices. Place tomato slices on a perforated sheet pan or sheet pan lined with paper towels. Sprinkle salt. Place a piece of parchment, followed by another sheet pan and 3-(16 oz) cans. Place everything on a long tray to catch juices and leave pressing overnight or at least 8 hours. Rinse the pressed tomatoes with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Pie crust (make up to 1 day ahead): Place 3 cups flour, butter and salt in a food processor and pulse until a crumbly texture forms. Add the water and continue to process until dough forms a ball. Place the dough onto a clean surface sprinkled with remaining flour and knead until all the flour on surface is incorporated into the dough. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill 2 hours or overnight.

Remove pie dough from refrigerator and roll to a disk of an even 1/8 -inch thickness. Fit dough into a 12-inch pie pan, leaving 1-inch overhang. Chill at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line dough-fitted pie pan with aluminum foil and apply weight, such as uncooked beans. Place in oven and blind-bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove weights. Return to oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and set aside until ready to assemble pie.

Assemble pie: Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and pour enough hot, boiling water to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes to soften. Strain and puree in a food processor into a smooth paste. Preheat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat with butter and oil until butter melts. Add onion, garlic,olives, tomato puree, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes and stir to incorporate. Continue cooking until a dry paste forms, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together milk with egg and set aside. Spread half the amount of the cooked tomato paste onto the pie crust, followed by sprinkling half amount each of basil, arugula, Asiago and Sottocenere cheese, if using. Add a layer of pressed tomatoes, making sure to completely cover cheese. Lightly season with freshly ground black pepper. Pour half the amount of egg mixture. Repeat once more with the remaining ingredients. Cover with aluminum foil and place in oven. Bake until mixture sets, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and return to oven to brown top, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.