Southern Tomato Pie with Vodka Crust is not just a recipe, it’s a religion…made with a homemade flaky crust, impossibly juicy summer tomatoes, Vidalia onions, plenty of mayo and sharp cheese, and of course a shower of fresh basil!
A classic Southern tomato pie is the stuff of midnight cravings…
and it’s really simple to put together. If you use a ready-made pie crust you can make it before your drool hits the counter. If you make the Vodka Crust it will be a labor of love, but one that will reward you many times over.
I used colorful heirloom tomatoes for my pie
You’ll usually see this pie made with good old fashioned red ones. Some Southern cooks use green tomatoes. I love to use fabulous heirlooms, they’re super sweet. But any tomato is good, as long as it’s at the peak of its season.
A tomato pie is a fresh and decadent at the same time!
Yeah it has a cup of mayo and 2 cups of cheese in it, what’s your point? It also has fresh basil, vidalia onion, and lots of fresh tomatoes, and I’m going on the assumption that you’re not going to be eating the whole pie yourself!
This is my first time making this, but it won’t be my last. Variations to follow, for sure (bacon, fresh corn, gourmet cheeses.)
Southern Tomato Pie
oven to 375
one very cold unbaked crust in a 9 inch tart or pie plate (recipe below)
4 or 5 ripe heirloom tomatoes
- Slice the tomatoes thickly, and lay them in a colander, salting lightly between layers. Set the tomatoes to drain. If you don’t have a colander, use a thick layer of paper towels.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 oz)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Mix the mayo with the cheeses and season with salt and lots of pepper.
10-12 large basil leaves
1/2 small vidalia onion
- Stack the basil leaves, roll up the long way like a cigar, and thinly slice it into fine ribbons.
- Cut the 1/2 onion in half again and slice it as finely as you can.
- Take your pie crust from the freezer and lay out half of the onion slices on the bottom.
- Layer half the tomatoes on top, then scatter the rest of the onions on top of them. Cover with a second layer of tomatoes, and sprinkle the basil evenly over all.
- Spoon the mayo topping over the tomatoes in large blobs. Then carefully spread the topping evenly over the pie. Don’t press down too much.
- Bake for abut 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Cool before slicing, if you can possibly wait. Traditionally this is served cold, but I enjoyed it warm from the oven.
The crust is an interesting story in itself. It’s not just a gimmick. The problem with pie crusts is that the water needed to moisten the dough also develops gluten in the flour, which can make them tough. Apparently alcohol doesn’t do that, so you end up with a very tender crust. The idea seems to have originated with Cooks Illustrated. I found is that it’s a little tough to work with; you have to be willing to repair cracks and patch it like crazy. I’m still on the fence, but I can’t argue with the end result. I’ll have to make a few more pies before I make my decision 😉
- Put the flour salt and sugar in the bowl of a processor and pulse to blend.
3/4 cups butter, cold
- Add in the cold butter and pulse about 20 times, or until the mixture has a coarse crumb texture.
2 Tbsp cold vodka2-4 Tbsp cold water
- Add in the vodka, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing repeatedly. Then add just enough water to get the dough moist but not wet. You don’t want the dough to come together in a ball, you will have to stop the machine and press a bit together with your fingers, if it holds, it’s done. I used 4 tablespoons.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and work with it just enough to bring it together in a smooth ball. Divide the dough in 2 pieces and form them into flat round disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
- Roll out one of the disks on a floured surface. If your dough cracks just keep repairing it as you go, it won’t affect the final product. Fit into your tart or pie dish.
- Put the dish in the freezer while you put together your Tomato Pie.