Tomato and Ricotta Pie

by Emily Kemme
tomato pie

Late summer is all the more glorious because of its sweetness. There is the understanding that the day’s intense heat will subside and in its place, the nights will be cooler. And in that combination lies the ultimate secret to summer’s sweet personality. Plump, robustly juicy tomatoes off the vine are the result of seasonal temperature variations, particularly so at the end of summer.

We’ve nurtured and tended them for months now; they began as either seedlings or tender sprouts. Now their vines are sturdy, branching out towards the sun as if to say, “Here are our beauties! Warm them and infuse them with your glowing richness, paint their skins to match your heat.” And while there is little better than a sun-warmed tomato popped into one’s mouth, a tomato pie is often considered the symbol of summer.

Tomato pies come in all sorts and tastes. This recipe features a creamy, herbal ricotta filling used with a store-bought pie shell. You may certainly bake your own, but baby, it’s hot outside. Less time in the kitchen is a good thing.

Home-grown or prized heirloom tomatoes from a farmers’ market are best sources for the intense flavor to balance the ricotta filling. You’ll need one pound but the variety is up to you and what you can find.

Note: To keep the crust from becoming soggy, do this:

First, salt the tomatoes after slicing and let their juices run onto a plate lined with paper towel. Second, pre-bake or blind bake the crust. This process prevents steam from puffing the dough and causing shrinkage. Blind baking by lining the crust with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil weighted with 1 cup of dried beans or special pie weights will suit the task. This step prevents juicy tomatoes from ruining the pie with a soggy crust. It will also help cook the ricotta filling to firmness. It also guarantees a flaky pie crust.

Tomato and Ricotta Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound mixed yellow and red tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds or halved if teardrop or cherry tomatoes are used
  • 6 ounces coarsely shredded mixture of Murray’s mac-n-cheese blend (nutty Gruyére, creamy Butterkäse, and meaty Raclette cheeses) or a blend of mild white cheeses
  • 16 ounce container whole milk ricotta
  • 1 store-bought pie shell, defrosted if frozen
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup oregano leaves, stripped from stems
  • 1/8 tsp dried lemon peel
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • 3 garlic cloves, skins removed, smashed
  • one large egg
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse sea salt
  • basil and oregano leaves for garnish

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 425℉.

Place sliced tomatoes cut side up on paper towel-lined plate. Salt the tomatoes generously and then turn them so the cut side faces down on the paper towel. Let seep for 30 minutes.

If store-bought pie crust is frozen, thaw until pliable. Dock the crust with a fork to allow steam to escape. Line crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil and pour in dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust for 15 minutes, until it is slightly puffed and golden on the edges. Remove paper/foil and beans and let cool for 10 minutes before proceeding.

While crust is pre-baking, purée cheeses, ricotta, herbs, spices, garlic, egg, and pepper flakes in blender. Salt to taste.

Once crust has cooled, pour filling into it, scraping sides of blender and smoothing filling. Arrange tomato slices in a circular pattern on top of ricotta filling, pressing lightly to emerge. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt. Bake pie until the tomatoes are tender and the filling has set, about 30 minutes.

Remove tomato pie from oven and cool completely before serving.

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