Tomato Pie

Summer is all about fresh tomatoes! When we were in lockdown earlier in the year, I joined this wonderful group of professional and home chefs on Facebook – ‘Quarantine Cuisine’. A couple of weeks ago Richard Tang did a live cooking class with a tomato pie that looked delicious.

Tested it out tonight, with a couple of tweaks for my personal taste. To peel the tomatoes, slice an x into the bottom of each one and drop them into boiling water for 30-45 seconds. When the skins start to come off at the x, take them out and put them directly into an ice water bath. The skins then very easily slide off.

Tomato Pie

4 large tomatoes, peeled
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp grated pecorino romano cheese
1 9-inch deep dish piecrust
Salt and pepper
Maldon’s smoked sea salt flakes, for finishing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tomatoes and place them in a colander over a large bowl. Sprinkle them with salt and let them sit for 15 minutes to draw moisture out.

Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon zest, and garlic; salt and pepper to taste. Add the mozzarella, cheddar, and pecorino and fold until well mixed. Set aside.

Line the pie plate with the piecrust and use a fork to poke holes on the bottom of the crust. Layer the tomatoes and then top with the onions and chopped basil.

Spread the cheese mixture on top. Garnish with basil leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Bake in the oven until lightly browned, about 35-40 minutes. Check the bottom crust and if it needs a few more minutes, put it back in on the lower rack. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve slices warm, finished with a sprinkle of smoked sea salt flakes.

Tomato and Bread Soup – Pappa al Pomodoro

Lidia Bastianich is one of my favorite professional chefs, specializing in Italian and Italian-American cuisine; I’ve used a number of her recipes for inspiration. She’s the author of eight cookbooks, five of which are accompanied by a national series on Public Television. Her style of cooking is fresh, authentic Italian; based heavily on family traditions. In an interview, Lidia expressed her opinion on food and family:

‘Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from.’

The lovely dish I made today, Tomato and Bread Soup, is a bright summer meal; the tomatoes and basil bursting with flavor, and the bread adding a hearty texture. I made this with canned San Marzano tomatoes, but I will definitely try it later in the summer when tomatoes are at peak season. I also left the crusts on the Italian bread, as I like some of the bread to stay in small chunks. If you’d prefer the bread to completely disintegrate, remove the crusts before adding to the soup.


I adapted this recipe from ‘Lidia’s Favorite Recipes’. This is a great cookbook to start with if you don’t have one of her cookbooks and want to try some wonderful Italian dishes.

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced Vidalia onion
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
Three 28-oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
Five 1/2 inch thick slices of stale Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 fresh basil leaves, washed
Freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep, heavy pot. Add the diced onion and cook until it starts to wilt, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands in a large bowl, or with a food mill. If you’re crushing with your hands, be careful – some of them burst with juice when crushed.

Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Add the vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes have boiled for 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add the bread and basil leaves to the pot and bring it back to a boil. Drop the heat so the soup is still simmering, low to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread. The soup will be silky and dense after about 40 minutes.

Season the soup to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve in warm bowls, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Provide grated parmigiana-reggiano on the side. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 quarts; serves 8.