Tomato Pie

People have been bringing me tomatoes - fat, gorgeous red orbs, like Christmas ornaments - and this morning when I went into the kitchen the aroma just reached up and hugged me. I suddenly had this sharp taste memory of James Beard's Tomato Pie - a dish I used to make all the time when I was in my twenties. I haven't had it in years, but I had this urgent need to taste it, right now.

James Beard’s Tomato Pie

Begin by making biscuit dough. (I like buttermilk biscuits for this recipe, although any biscuit will do – even the ones that are in the freezer case of your supermarket.)

Buttermilk Parsley Biscuits Combine 2 cups of flour with 2 and a half teaspoons of baking powder and a half teaspoon each of salt and baking soda. Cut in 1/3 cup of butter until it’s the size of peas, and add a little flurry of chopped parsley (mostly it looks pretty). Stir in ¾ cups of buttermilk until the dough holds together, turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few minutes. Pat it into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan.

Cover the biscuits with 4 to 6 ripe tomatoes, sliced into nice fat rounds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shower a couple of tablespoons of shredded basil on top.

Mix a cup or so of grated Cheddar cheese with a cup and a half of mayonnaise and spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes.

Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, or until it is golden brown.

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Laura, your comment was moving. I am re-reading Laurie Colwin's "A Big Storm Knocked it Over" and missing out Ruth. I doubt that the new Gourmet mag that will be published in the next few weeks will have the content and gravitas that the last iteration had.

I have been making this tomato pie since reading about it in Laurie Colwin's column, goodness, 1995 or so? It was an epiphany for me ... yes, the recipe, but that's not actually what I mean. I'd been a subscriber since 1990 when I received a year of Gourmet as a gift, but for whatever karmic reason that column was the first time I'd actually read anything except the recipes. It was like the clouds parted, and I realized, before the word "content" was so uber-familiar, that Gourmet was loaded with content above and beyond its amazing recipes (from which I learned to cook and love food). I actually cried when the magazine was canceled, and am still not over it. I keep hoping you, Ruth, start something similar, recipes, and "content" for the soul, and photographic art for the eyes ... I miss it all so much. On the web is fine ... just, oh, please ...

We're still struggling to get some color on our backyard tomatoes here in Sonoma County - we've had the worst summer weather in half a century. Looks like it will pick up now that the kids are going back to school. On a side note, I am attending the Book Passage annual travel, food and photography conference today through Sunday at Corte Madera. Wish you were there to teach us all a thing or two, Ruth!

Oh this sounds like exactly what I want to eat every day of August for lunch.
Also, may I say I just adore your writing and I'm so glad to have found more of it here.

This sounds sooooooooooooo good and the tomatoes in my yard are finally turning red. I had one this morning on a scrambled egg & basil (from the garden) sandwich!

That sounds amazing yet so simple. I must try this soon!

About this journal
Where am I eating? What's for dinner tonight? And what books have I been reading? For a look at what's going on in my life lately, take a look at this journal, which I try to update on a regular basis.