Out of ideas for summer produce?
Try this tomato pie
Way back in February I got the gardening bug, so I started several different varieties of tomatoes in plastic lettuce containers that I’d been hoarding for that purpose. In a warm east-facing window, seedlings with names like Black Krim, Brandywine, Sun Gold, San Marzano and Green Zebra popped up and lined the windowsill. Eventually these little darlings made their way to the garden, and I am now beginning to be inundated with their fruit. The ripe juicy tomatoes that I had so pined for in the dead of winter now seem to be coming out of the woodwork.
There are several strategies for dealing with a surplus of tomatoes. The first, and likely best, is giving them away to loved ones and even complete strangers.
However, it’s possible that even after you’ve foisted off as much fruit as you can upon friends and neighbors, you’ll still find yourself with an assortment of ripe tomatoes staring at you from the counter. Chopping the tomatoes whole (remove the core but leave the skins and seeds) and freezing two-cup portions in quart sized zip-top freezer bags works well for adding to soup or making tomato sauce. Leaving in the skins and seeds is a personal choice; most classic recipes call for them to be removed and discarded. After a long simmer I don’t find their texture to be objectionable, and the flavor and nutrition that they bring to a dish is definitely worthwhile.
When my mother put up tomatoes, she would peel them by dropping the whole tomato in boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunging the tomatoes into a bowl of ice water. This allowed the skins to slip off easily. Then she would chop them and remove the seeds, and salt them about one teaspoon per two cups of chopped tomatoes. When I make this today I leave in the seeds and add a pinch of sugar to enhance flavor.
This mixture would be left to drain in a non-reactive colander over a bowl for about an hour. Much of the salt drains away into the liquid that accumulates, and the resulting tomatoes are ready to be packed up and frozen or used right away. (Use the tomato liquid to boil pasta or make risotto, or as the base for an amazing bloody mary). Freezing fruit causes the water in it to expand and burst cell walls, resulting in a mushy product when thawed. This salting method helps to retain texture by essentially pulling the water out of the cells beforehand. It’s also handy if you don’t want the water in the tomato to result in a soggy dish, for instance when adding tomatoes to quiche or topping a pizza, or if you want to reduce water content and still keep the tomatoes raw for a salsa or salad.
Another method for reducing water content in tomatoes (and my favorite) is roasting them. Whole cherry tomatoes or chunks of large beefsteak tomatoes can be tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar before being transferred onto a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Roasting at a high heat (400 convection) reduces down the liquid and caramelizes the sugars, intensifying the tomato flavor. Herbs, onion and garlic can be added to the roasting tomatoes as desired. This roasted tomato mixture is ready to use in recipes or can be frozen or canned.
I use these roasted tomatoes in a tomato and sweet corn pie, which has become my summer potluck go to. It is one that I initially made up just because the ingredients were ones that I had on hand. It has now become one of my most requested recipes. Some sort of summertime hybrid between a pizza and a quiche, this pie has layered fire roasted sweet corn and tomatoes with fresh herbs and goat cheese. The pie dough and filling can be made ahead, then assembled and baked the day you want to bake the pie.
Sweet Corn & Roasted Tomato Galette with Chevre
• 1 quart whole cherry tomatoes or 4 large beefsteak tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ recipe pie dough
• 1 tablespoon butter
• ½ cup minced shallot or onion
• 4 ears sweet corn
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
• 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1 egg
• 6 ounces crumbled chevre, divided
• Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425-degree convection. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the hot oven until the tomatoes have burst and their juices begin to reduce and caramelize, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
While the tomatoes are roasting, make ready the rest of the filling. Shuck the sweet corn and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off of the ear. Use the blade of the knife to scrape along the cut cob to get out as much corn milk as possible.
Heat the butter in a skillet and sauté the shallots until softened and slightly translucent. Add the sweet corn and thyme and sauté until the corn is cooked through and lightly browned. Combine with the roasted tomato mixture and let cool slightly. Add the tablespoon of flour, parsley and beaten egg and mix well. Add half the chevre crumbles and mix lightly. This filling can be made up to four days ahead and also freezes well.
When you’re ready to bake the galette, roll out a disc of pie dough on a sheet of parchment into a 12-inch circle. Using both hands, lift the sheet of parchment with the dough circle onto a baking sheet. Mound the chilled filling into the middle of the dough circle, and sprinkle the remaining chevre on top of the mound. Bring up the sides of the dough around the mound of filling in a pleated fashion. Brush the finished galette with egg wash and bake on the bottom rack in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake another 45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Let cool at least 30-45 minutes before serving.
Contact Ashley Meyer at Ashley@realcuisine.net.