Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Star of Summer.

Oh, the tomato.

I wait all year for the sweet crunch of the grape and cherry tomatoe and the soft juicy flesh of any heirloom. I put them on everything. Open faced tomato sandwich (with or without bacon but always with basil), any sort of vegetable or grain salad, and my favorite way to eat them... Tomato Pie.

Tomato Pie is a family dish that I have treasured (yes, treasured) my entire life. It is maybe one of my top 5 favorite dishes in the world. And yes, I realize that is a bold statement. I say it with confidence, sincerity and no desire to take it back. So there. ; )

This tomato pie is so amazing that I must implore you to make it now. Make it today, make it again tomorrow and keep making it until the last tomato is gone for the summer. You won't regret it. Although it is heavy on the cheese so your stomach might. In fact, I am currently attempting to revamp this recipe to make it much healthier with no cow's milk and NO mayo (unless homemade). These are baby steps here and so far, so good. We'll see what version I make next and if it's even better I'll let you know. : )

A few things you should know before we get to the recipe:

1) Fresh tomatoes are necessary. Fresh from the closet garden you can find. As crazy as it sounds, store bought tomatoes just don't do this dish justice. You can definitely tell a difference between a store bought and garden fresh tomato. Go with the garden  - it's better tasting, better for you, and better for the environment. : )

2) I hate to say it but, this dish has mayo. I am a strong loather of mayo. I've hated mayo since I was born and I'll hate it til I die. However, I am interested in making my own and would be completely comfortable using that as the mayo replacement.  For both health and personal reasons (such as disgust). However, I'd be curious to see how the thinner consistency would manage. If you attempt it before me, let me know how it goes!

3) I made a whole spelt flour crust, but you could use a store bought crust if you prefer. Alternatively, if you are gluten free you could always make a nut flour crust. Hopefully I'll have a recipe for you soon but for now look up Roost Blog for hers.

4) This dish currently contains cow's milk cheese (albeit lactose free -- which is why I am able to eat it).  I would like to attempt making it with only goat or sheep's milk cheese. That would alter the overall taste of the tomato pie, but I think it could be for the better. I used a small portion of goat cheese in this dish but next time I'll go all the way. I prefer (and encourage you to try) using goat or sheep's milk instead of cow because it is much easier to digest for everyone. Even people who can handle lactose.

Goat's milk is a wonderful substitute for cow's milk for several other reasons as well. In addition to being easier to digest, goat's milk is also more nutritious. It contains more Calcium and Vitamin A (among other nutrients) than cow's milk and it helps to alkalize the blood stream. This is important because it helps balance out the PH levels in the body...which I am learning how important that is. More to come on all of these topics but for now let's all head over to My New Roots to discover more about the health benefits of goat's milk. Once I'm more learned on the subject I'll be back with another delicious and informative post! : )

Tomato Pie
Serves 6-8

Spelt Flour Crust
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 6-7 small ramekins or 2 rolls of pie dough.

2 1/4 cups spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder (aluminum free)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
9 tbsp ghee
3/4 cup buttermilk*

1) Mix dry ingredients in a food processor.
2) Add cold and cubed Ghee to food processor.
3) Add buttermilk and pulse until dough forms.
4) Wrap and chill for 2 hours.
5) Once finished chilling, bake at 375 for 10 min.

Tomato Pie
5-6 large tomatoes
large handful fresh basil
garlic salt
1 1/2 cups freshly grated cheese (I used a cheddar and goat mixture)
3/4 cup mayo
several jalapeños

1) Slice tomatoes and let them drain for 30 min. Sprinkle the garlic salt and pepper on sliced tomatoes
    as the salt helps to drain the tomatoes even more. This will keep the crust from getting as soggy
    during cooking process.
2) Shred cheese. Chop jalapeños. Mix cheese, mayo, jalapeños and lots of pepper until well
3) Layer tomatoes in cooked pie crust and sprinkle basil between each layer.
4) Spread cheese mixture all over the top.
5) Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

*I make my own buttermilk by measuring the amount of necessary goat milk just shy of 1 tablespoon. Then add either lemon juice or white vinegar to reach the required amount and let sit for 5 minutes.

**I usually start with this amount and adjust as necessary. I prefer as little mayo as possible so usually add more cheese, but mix to your preference.

This dish is amazing with a glass of lightly sweetened tea and a light salad on the side.