Sunday, August 21, 2011


Tomatoes are lining my window sill waiting to ripen. There are a few more on a cutting board ready for tomato sandwiches. Pasta Puttanesca is on the menu for the weekend. But today is all about Tomato Pie.

I just took my brand new August Bon Appetit out of its mailing wrapper, admiring the Blackberry and Lime Meringue Pie on the cover. All the while I was trying to figure out how I could work it into my daily choices of healthier foods—definitely a fruit source! This issue features pies of every sort. As I quickly thumbed through the magazine looking for the cover queen recipe my eyes locked on the picture of Tomato and Cheddar Pie. It wasn't nearly as pretty as the cover pie, which looked perfect and sported the elegance of Italian Meringue. No, the tomato pie picture looked sort of messy, slices were gone from the plate and I couldn't quite figure out the crust. Instantly, all thoughts of meringue and blackberries were fading and being replaced by my infatuation with tomato pie.

The recipe was on the next page and I liked the way it sounded—the crust was more like buttermilk biscuits rolled out like a pie crust. Tomatoes and two cheeses with a mayonnaise/dill sauce made up the filling. What could possibly be bad? Only one thing—a single slice had more calories than my entire dinner should contain.

I started reducing and substituting and produced a 'slimmer' pie that actually looked as tempting as its full figure counterpart. I'll probably never know if the original tastes that much better. Mine certainly satisfied my craving and far exceeded my expectations. I'll be using this recipe for brunches or company lunch for a long time to come!

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

(adapted from Bon Appetite August 2011 issue)

I changed a few things in the original recipe to make this a 'slimmer' pie: low-fat buttermilk and cheese, and only half the amount of mayonnaise filling. I don't think these changes harmed the results. I would also suggest trying a mozzarella/basil version, or adding bacon or pancetta. The possibilities are endless!

This is a sticky dough. I brought it together and briefly kneaded it while still in the bowl, then wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerated for an hour. When I was ready to roll the dough, I greased my hands with olive oil and coated the dough ball. I only used about three-fourths of the dough, which also helped reduce calories.


2 cups all-purpose flour

One and one-half teaspoons baking powder

One-half teaspoon baking soda

One-half teaspoon salt

6 T butter cut into small pieces and chilled

1 cup low-fat buttermilk


2 lbs. Large ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into one-fourth inch slices—place slices on paper towels to drain excess moisture

Two and one-half cups grated low-fat cheddar

One-fourth cup grated Parmesan

1 green onion, chopped

One-fourth cup mayonnaise

1 T freshly chopped dill

One-half tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. Sugar substitute

One-half tsp. Salt

One-fourth tsp. Pepper

One and one-half T cornmeal

For crust:

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms and some small lumps remain. Stir in buttermilk and knead gently with your hands until dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

For Filling:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Use only three-fourths of the dough for the crust. Use the excess for individual tomato pie biscuits, or discard.

Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an 11 inch round. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Invert dough onto pie dish. Carefully peel off plastic wrap.

Toss both cheeses in a medium bowl until evenly mixed. Reserve one-fourth cup of cheese mixture. Whisk onion, mayo, dill, vinegar, sugar substitute, salt and pepper in small bowl.

Sprinkle cornmeal evenly over bottom of crust, then top with one-half cup cheese mixture. Arrange one-third of the tomatoes over cheese, overlapping as needed. Spread half the mayo mixture over the tomatoes. Repeat layering with 1 cup of cheese mixture, half the remaining tomato slices and the remaining mayo mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese mixture over, then remaining tomato slices. Sprinkle with reserved one-fourth cup cheese mixture. Fold overhanging crust up and over the edges of tomato slices.

Bake pie until crust is golden and cheese is golden brown, 35-40 minutes (check crust halfway and tent with foil if it's getting too dark). Let pie cool before slicing. (Bon Appetit recommended resting 1-3 hours, but with less mayo mixture and using low-fat cheese, my pie was ready to slice by the time it had cooled.)