Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Tomato Pies of Late Summer

Slow-roasted tomato and pork pizza with mozzarella, provolone,  garlic, and fresh basil

Tomato pie. Say it. "Tomato pie." If you accentuated "pie" and said a long "o" on "tomato" you may not know about tom-AY-ta pie. Tom-AY-ta pie is an Italian-American specialty only found in Philadelphia, New York, Trenton, Providence and maybe a couple of other places. Tomato sauce slathers a thick Sicilian-type crust, with a little Romano or Parmesan cheese grated over the top, and it's usually eaten at room temperature. It's a rectangular pie. If you live near me and want to try it, they make the real deal at Romano's. It's near the airport in Essington. The reason I've not gotten the tom-AY-ta pie there is that Romano's invented stromboli. And the stromboli is truly good--I get the original with sweet peppers. 

This looks like a 1970s cookbook photo. It's from a "pie fest" we went to on Labor Day.

Anyway. Tomato pie, as as opposed to tom-AY-ta pie, encompasses many dough-tomato variations, always a good thing with so many plum tomatoes these days. I like to slow-roast the tomatoes first.  They're still juicy but not watery, and the flavor is sweet and concentrated and amazing.As for storage, they last several days in the fridge with a little olive oil. 
Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes
Olive oil
Sea salt
Sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 300. Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut each one in half. Find the right size pan for how many tomatoes you have. I like to use a rimmed cookie sheet or a sheet cake pan lined with parchment paper. Place the tomatoes in the pan and brush with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste, and you can sprinkle a little sugar over them if you want. Roast until tomatoes are a little shriveled, 30 to 40 minutes.

Yesterday I roasted some tomatoes along with two "Holy Mole" peppers from the garden. They were tossed with whole wheat pasta. I didn't have that many tomatoes or peppers, so on the other side of the pan, with a good wide berth of a couple of inches, I roasted some beets, cubed into bite-size pieces. The tomatoes needed 40 minutes and the beets needed 60. I hate to waste oven heat, and it's always a great idea to throw in as much as you can. Just test the vegetables every once in a while. The bigger the pieces, the longer they take, and the more dense the vegetable the longer as well. Beets should be segregated from other colors unless you want everything to be pinkish red. By the way, the beets were served in a salad.

That picture up there, of all the pies, is from a "pie fest" some friends hosted. The pies were all wonderful, and tomatoes were a big theme, of course. Mine is the one just to the left of the "savory" sign, a roasted tomato and eggplant pie, with smoked mozzarella and ricotta cheese, and a Trader Joe's crust. I didn't use a recipe; I just layered the roasted vegetables alternately with the ricotta mixture (with egg and parmesan cheese mixed in with the ricotta), and with shredded smoked mozzarella. I think I was in some kind of perverse anti-show-off mode because I could have made a real crust, but didn't. I show off when I don't have to, and don't show off when I should. Maybe it was all the getting-ready-for-school deadlines, but the siren call of the Trader Joe's crust was just too appealing.

And as for the pizza up there in the top picture, that's from our weekly Friday pizza night. Yet another kind of tomato pie. Please have or make some tom-AY-ta pie, or some tomato pie, this week, before summer completely escapes you. I insist.

1 comment:

  1. I'm obsessed with tomatoes on pizza. But also with cheese, so I'm not so much into the tomayta pies. I'm going to try your tomato-eggplant idea. I'm obsessed.

    I make a veggie lasagna using eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash in place of the middle layer of noodles. fresh-made ricotta cheese gets mixed with spinach and shredded mozzarella, I layer shredded carrots and roasted tomatoes in there, and top it with sharp provolone and grated romano and ricotta salata cheeses. Of course a little sauce on the bottom and the top. The secret ingredient is to mix cinnamon and nutmeg in with all the italian seasonings. So delicious.

    Now I really want that lasagna...

    Also, I love the new site!