“People who love to eat are always the best people.” -Julia Child
I adore hearing about everyone’s summer adventures and where and what they ate. It’s no surprise to anyone that I enjoy a good meal and talking about food and nutrition. Through food, I believe we get a true taste (pun intended) of a location, the people and the culture. Breaking bread with others is something that spans all languages, or accents for this transplant from the North.
This year, my summer menu included a trip to Kinston, North Carolina to dine at Chef & the Farmer. I wanted to go for quite some time and decided to wait until the most produce was in season as their menu strives to be as local as possible. The flavors were wonderful and each dish delicious, including the tomato pie pictured above with recipe below. While it was an experience that we were all glad we had, we felt as though many of our favorite Chapel Hill restaurants (Lantern, Acme and ONE, I’m looking at you) are just as good of a treat and a couple of hours closer. It’s good to be spoiled sometimes!
Speaking of traveling for food, my husband and I are planning a trip to Italy next month so there will only be one of my blogs in October. It’ll be worth the wait though, as I’m planning to write about our cooking class we have scheduled in Rome, the local delicacies we plan on eating in Cinque Terre and our olive oil tasting bike tour in Florence.
Makes roughly one 12-inch pie or tart.
- 2 cups diced and drained fresh tomatoes (see below)
- 2 cups diced and roasted tomatoes (see below)
- 1 cup caramelized onions (see below)
- 1/2 cup picked basil
- pie crust (blind bake before filling)
For the diced and drained tomatoes
Seed and dice about 3 cups fresh, high-quality tomatoes. Toss them with a little kosher salt and sugar. Set over a colander while you prepare the remaining ingredients if possible. If not, drain for a minimum of an hour. You should be left with about 2 cups of tomato.
For the roasted tomatoes
Seed and dice 4 cups fresh, high quality tomatoes. Toss them with olive oil (Chef & the Farmer uses garlic oil), plenty of kosher salt, and several sprigs of thyme. Spread this mix out on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You want the tomatoes to be dry and slightly caramelized, but not burned around the edges.
For the onions
Peel and slice 4 medium yellow onions. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup butter. Add the onions and season them with salt. Let the onions simmer and become juicy. Once the situation becomes a bit drier and much of the onion liquid has cooked out, turn down the heat, to its lowest setting and settle in for a long, slow caramelize. To get these onions where they need to be, it could take about 2 hours. You are looking for a medium brown, sweet caramelization.
To Assemble the Filling
Combine the onions, fresh tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Keep in mind, tomatoes take a lot of seasoning to really make them shine in applications like this.
For the Topping
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/3 cup grated Fontina
1/2 cup mayo
To Bake and Serve
Spread the filling over the bottom of a blind-baked crust. Flatten the topping between wax paper or use your good ol’ hands to create a 1/3 inch thick round of delicious, cheesy topping that spreads nearly to the edges of the pie. Bake at 375 degrees until the top is nicely browned, about 20-25 minutes. Serve at just over room temperature.