Tomato Pie

Here’s one of the best loved recipes on the site—tomato pie! Perfect at the peak of summer tomato season.

One of the great things about going on vacation is I get to hang out with my friends, and sometimes meet their friends, who sometimes have OMG-this-is-so-GOOD dishes that they bring over. This tomato pie recipe is a result of one of these encounters.

The first time I heard of it (“tomato pie”, hmm, oooookaaaay) my brain suffered a little cognitive dissonance (never heard those two words, tomato and pie, joined at the hip like that before). Seconds after taking a bite however, I was begging for the recipe.

It’s a savory pie, not sweet, filled with fresh garden tomatoes, sprinkled with basil, and held together with a mixture of mayonnaise and shredded cheese. The egg in the mayo acts as a binder to help hold the filling in place.

Many thanks to Diane Connolly (aka Lady Di) who graciously wrote it out on some post-it notes for me at the dinner table. It is the first thing I cooked when I got back home. Think pizza meets cheesy bread and they make-out in a pie crust.

The recipe lends itself to estimates. Handfuls of this, handfuls of that. I measured, but you could eyeball it and it would still work out. Feel free to change the cheeses around, play with the spices. I made a homemade pie crust, but for this recipe a good quality prepared crust would work fine.

You could also bulk it up a bit more with a cup or so of fresh corn, or some small diced eggplant that has been lightly browned on the stovetop first.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

What is one sign of a good taqueria? The salsa, of course! Or I should use the plural and say “salsa-s”. Any decent Mexican dining establishment north of the border, whether a taco truck or full on restaurant will offer a variety of salsas to its patrons—tomatillo salsa verde, red chili salsa, and my favorite, a fresh tomato salsa otherwise knows as Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca.

It’s easy to make, you just need chopped up fresh tomatoes, chiles, onions, cilantro, some lime juice, and seasonings. Use it as a dip for tortilla chips or serve it with tostadas, tacos, or my favorite, alongside steak and pinto beans.

Because this particular salsa is made with fresh ingredients, it will last as long as you would expect cut fresh tomatoes to last. It’s best eaten right after you make it, chilled it should last about 5 days or so.

When using fresh chile peppers always taste first before adding! Some peppers are hotter than others and you really can’t tell unless you taste them. Just take a very small taste. You’ll be able to gauge the heat of the pepper and will be better able to judge how much you need.

Ingredients
2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed
1/2 red onion
2 serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile (stems, ribs, seeds removed), less or more to taste
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of dried oregano (crumble in your fingers before adding), more to taste
Pinch of ground cumin, more to taste

Method
1 Start by roughly chopping the tomatoes, chiles, and onions. Be very careful while handling the chile peppers. If you can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands. (I often use disposable gloves or hold the peppers with a plastic sandwich bag.) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for more heat.
2 Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times, just enough to finely dice the ingredients, not enough to purée. If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely dice by hand.
3 Place in a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add a little more ground cumin.
Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.
Serve with chips, tortillas, tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, pinto or black beans.

Baked Chicken

September always catches me unawares. It seems that one day we are wilting in the heat while neighborhood kids shoot hoops well past dusk (how can they see in the dark?). The next day a cool breeze comes in, the block is eerily quiet, the kids back at school.

Even though summer isn’t officially over till later in the month, for all practical purposes, it’s gone. Playtime has passed. We put on our worker bee wings and get ready for the fall.
This baked chicken dish is made for busy days. It takes all of 10 minutes of hands on time, and 45 minutes in the oven. Cherry tomatoes can still easily be found at the market, or in your garden in many parts of the country. A few cloves of garlic, a couple sprigs of rosemary, some balsamic, salt, and chicken thighs are all you’ll need.

The chicken and tomatoes will produce plenty of juice, which you can use for dipping crusty bread, or reduce further and serve as a sauce over the chicken.

My mother and father stopped by the other day for lunch and I served them this chicken. They both gave it two thumbs up for taste and my mom gave extra points for simplicity. Enjoy!

This dish produces a lot of flavorful liquid. You can use it for dipping crusty toasted bread. Or, you can remove the chicken, tomatoes, and garlic to a serving dish and pour the strained liquid into a small saucepan and boil until reduced to a thicker sauce. You can pour this sauce back over the chicken or pour it over rice or pasta.
The recipe calls for bone-in thighs. If you make it with boneless thighs you may need to reduce the cooking time by a few minutes.
The recipe calls for skin-on thighs. If you make it with skinless thighs, try to cover the thighs as much as you can with the tomatoes, to help prevent the meat from drying out. If you make it with skinless breasts, do the same, and reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes.

Ingredients
2 pounds (900 g) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups of cherry tomatoes (a heaping basket or 25 to 30 cherry tomatoes)
6 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary)