I've been trying my hand at making tomato pies, another late summer staple to serve as an appetizer, light lunch or dinner entree.
I have not yet perfected it. It likely will never be a signature dish for me, like it was for my late friend and former fellow columnist Roy H. Odom II.
Roy had shared a beloved recipe with many friends, and his own handmade tomato pies with even more. My attempts at Roy's recipe, which calls for thick-sliced, ripe, heirloom fruits, have turned out tasty, but runnier than I'd like. I suspect it will take a lot of trial and error, especially on the "pat slices dry to remove excess moisture" step.
More recently, my maternal cousin Richard Wallen began telling Mom he'd recently started making tomato pies that were turning out downright delicious. Richard's sister, cousin Cathy Walton, also has been making tomato pies using the same recipe as Richard.
I've gotten closer to what I think of as proper density for tomato pie with this recipe my cousins have been finding tasty. Mom and I share that assessment. We weren't surprised to find out where Richard found the recipe last month. It was featured in the August edition of Cooperative Living Magazine, published by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.
Growing up with roots in Lee County, Va., I have long been familiar with the magazine because it is distributed to members of the Powell Valley Electric Cooperative. But anyone can subscribe for $10 a year. Mom let her subscription lapse several years ago. Cooperative Living's content is available online (this month's recipes are apple-themed), but I'm going to re-subscribe.
The recipe for "Fresh Tomato Pie" in the August issue of Cooperative Living was submitted to the magazine by reader Wendy Lankford, Red Oak, Va. It is in fact tasty and downright delicious. And it's easy to make. I reprint it below with permission from Cooperative Living.
It's a lighter version of tomato pie than Roy's, which includes a cup of Duke's mayonnaise and an egg. Lankford's recipe in Cooperative Living uses Caesar salad dressing as a binder. I couldn't pick one over the other. I'm tempted to make each in a tart pan using a single layer of filling.
I suggest using 9-inch deep dish pie crusts for both recipes. And bake the crust first in both cases, as specified in the Lankford/Cooperative Living recipe, but not clearly stated in Roy's. I used 8-inch deep dish pie crusts and I think that's one reason my pies were runnier.
Because Roy specified "ripe, heirloom" tomatoes, I went to the Kingsport Farmers Market and spent $8 on several purple Cherokee and one large "pink German." They were extremely juicy. For the other pie I simply used red Grainger County tomatoes from the grocery store and per the recipe, sliced them very thinly.
Mom and I prefer white pepper in our cooking and baking and I used it in both recipes.
Mom doesn't like sliced onions, so I chopped them where the recipe calls for sliced.