Crustless Southern Tomato Pie – Tomatoes at Their Best
Summer’s sun-ripened tomatoes are here. And other than eating them warmed from the sun and straight off the vine, I’ve found the most delicious use for them. I’ve never tasted tomatoes this sweet and luscious.This incredibly delicious Crustless Southern Tomato Pie celebrates the essence of summer tomatoes. With my first bite and every succeeding bite, my not so silent “wow’s” kept coming and continued long after the last bite.
I’ve adapted Chef Vivian Howard’s recipe by removing the crust. And, I’ve kept her version of this Southern classic with its combination of both fresh and roasted tomatoes with caramelized onions, raising the tomato flavor to heavenly heights. The tomatoes offer a perfect contrast of both texture and flavor to the creamy and slightly tangy Southern mayonnaise and cheese topping.
Crustless and individual tomato pies
I made my first Crustless Southern Tomato Pie as recommended in a 9-inch glass pie dish. Though, as the pie doesn’t really include anything to hold it together, servings came out by the spoonful rather than by the wedge. Each serving came with a messy (though tasty) pool of tomato juices on the dinner plate.
I soon realized that these issues could be avoided by baking the pie in individual baking dishes. After shopping half a dozen stores, I found the perfect sized ramekins—2 inches high with a capacity of 9 ½ ounces—at an exceptionally good price at World Market. That very night they were put to use. Perfect. Although a wedge of pie is more traditional, I prefer the round, individual pies with its contained juices now easily enjoyed with a spoon.
When life gives you tomatoes. . .
Use the best tomatoes you can find. That is “best” as in juicy, ripe summer tomatoes with the fullest tomato flavor. Even store-bought Compari tomatoes will work, provided you leave them out on your kitchen counter until they’ve become deep red, ripe and flavorful.
Because of our short Montana growing season, we grow varieties that ripen in 55-60 days in our garden. For the past few years our favorites because of their incredible tomato flavor are Juliet plum tomatoes and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.
Crustless Southern Tomato Pie
Lightly adapted from a recipe by Chef Vivian Howard, The First Lady of Carolina Cooking.
When tomatoes are sweet and juicy, I prepare her Southern Tomato Pie recipe without a crust and with less added sugar. Chef Howard’s combination of fresh and roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions with the rich topping is perfect. The flavor is incredible, the essence of the very best tomatoes.
Serve Crustless Southern Tomato Pie as a light entrée with a salad, or as a side dish. In a smaller ramekin it could easily be a first course as well. Enjoy this pie for entertaining by prepping the ingredients and topping in advance. Then wait to fill the ramekins and smooth on the topping just before baking.
Makes One 9-inch pie, or four individual 9.5 ounce ramekins
Active Time 1 ½ hours Printer-Friendly Recipe
Total Time 2 hours
3-plus pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, ½-inch diced to equal 8 cups
2 teaspoons salt, divided
½ teaspoon organic sugar
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large yellow or white onion, thinly sliced pole to pole (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Dozen twists freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup packed whole basil leaves
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise or Veganaise
2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Sharp White Cheddar or a combination of the two
8-10 Cherry or 3-4 plum tomatoes or a colorful heirloom tomato or two
Optional Garnish fresh basil leaves and chives
- Prepare the filling: Toss the diced tomatoes with ½ teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon sugar. Place them in a strainer to drain off extra juice. (Save and drink the juice, it’s exceptionally delicious.)
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and cover the pan. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cover the pan and continue to cook the onions until caramelized, about 45 minutes. Stir the onions every 5-10 minutes. After 30 minutes, uncover the pan. If the onions begin to stick, stir in a tablespoon or two of water and continue cooking.
- Meanwhile, remove half of the tomatoes from the strainer to another bowl. Toss them with ½ teaspoon of the salt, the fresh thyme and the remaining 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer these tomatoes in one layer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes. After you remove the tomatoes, lower the heat to 350 degrees.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, thinly slice the cherry, plum or heirloom tomatoes. Lay the slices out on a paper towel to dry and set aside.
- Combine the roasted tomatoes, the drained tomatoes in the sieve, the caramelized onions and the fresh basil and black pepper.
- Lightly spray either a 9-inch glass pie dish or individual ramekins with olive oil. Then fill with the tomato mixture.
- Prepare the topping: In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise and grated cheese. Top the tomato filling with the mayo/cheese mixture. A small angled spatula makes easy work of this. Decorate the top with the drained, sliced tomatoes.
- Bake the whole pie for 20 minutes, the individual ramekins for 15 minutes. Raise the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for another 10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack.
- Serve Crustless Southern Tomato Pie warm or at room temperature garnished with the optional fresh herbs.