Heirloom Tomato and Onion Pie

Photo from Emily Hilliard's pie blog, Nothing in the House.

When I was at Glade Road Growing on Friday picking up my farm share, JP suggested an onion pie recipe this week,  I had just seen a recipe for tomato pie thanks to my friend writer and artist Angelyn DeBord of Appalshop, who got it from WV State Folklorist Emily Hilliard, who, in turn, adapted it from that wonderful Eastern Kentucky (Corbin) native Ronni Lundy's cookbook, Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken.  So in answer to JP's request, I've added more onions to Ronni's recipe and made some other changes.

Lundy believes that tomato pie is derived from that southern restaurant favorite stewed tomatoes. Many other recipes for tomato pie include mayonnaise, but I prefer otherwise, as does Hilliard.   My pie crust adds  cornmeal and grated Parmesan cheese. I also prefer my tomatoes and onions sliced, rather than chopped, since they are so pretty.


Serves  6

3/4 cup white whole wheat  or sprouted wheat flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 T cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces or you can substitute extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup yogurt + 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon water or milk)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 cup red or white onion, sliced thin
3 cups fresh tomatoes, sliced and left to dry a bit on the counter for a half-hour
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 or five fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. To make the crust, whisk together in a medium bowl, the flour, corn meal and salt, then use your fingers to work in the butter or olive oil.  Pour buttermilk into the flour mixture and stir until well blended but still damp. Roll into a ball, cover and refrigerate, which will allow the fat to form layers that make for a flakier crust.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt the Tablespoon of butter into a large skillet. Add onions and cook until softened.

3.  Drain the juice from the tomatoes and add milk to the juice. Add a bit of the liquid mixture to the cornstarch and stir to make a smooth paste.  Whisk the sugar, cornstarch paste, and spices into the remaining liquid mixture until well blended.  Pour into the skillet with the onions and turn heat to medium.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

4.  Layer the tomato slices on top of the onions and liquid mixture.

4.  Turn the pie crust dough out onto a floured board and roll into a circle the size of your skillet.  Cut into strips about an inch wide for the lattice top.  Lay the strips of dough over the top of the filling,  weaving to make a lattice, if desired.

4. Place skillet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the dough is golden-brown.