There Is A Season: Fresh tomatoes, baked in a pie

  • Mayo and mozzarella combine with tomatoes in this pie’s savory filling. MOLLY PARR

For the Gazette
Published: 8/22/2020 11:44:08 AM

Judging by my garden and the CSA, it’s tomato time, and the recipes are easy.

It doesn’t take much to enjoy a fresh ripe tomato. Last week I made a lovely salad of heirloom tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese. Even easier is the holy coupling of fresh August tomatoes and mayonnaise. Slightly more advanced, but not requiring any cooking, is gazpacho, the Spanish cold soup of tomatoes, cucumbers and stale bread.  

I recently raised my tomato sandwich game to a tomato and mayo pie. Not just mayonnaise — there was also about a pound of fresh mozzarella and lots of basil flecked throughout, all encased in a buttery crust. When I posted a photo of it to social media, about half a dozen people asked for the recipe within the first half-hour. It was then that I knew I had my recipe of the week. 

Please don’t be intimidated by a pie crust; my 7-year-old loves rolling out dough and has become quite proficient at it this summer. We’re just not going to talk about the mess she and her 5-year-old sister made with the flour, the last of which my husband vacuumed up today. 

If you’re interested in hearing me wax poetic about tomatoes, I’m one of the judges at Red Fire Farm’s annual tomato festival, which will be streamed on Facebook Live this afternoon, Saturday, Aug. 22. And thank you to everyone who has written to share thoughts and recipes — I love reading what is going on in your kitchens!

Tomato pie 

Basic pie crust

2½ cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon salt

½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

One-quarter to half-cup ice water 


3 large tomatoes (about 1½ pounds) 

Kosher salt

1 cup mayonnaise 

1 pound of fresh mozzarella, chopped 

One quarter cup of fresh basil, shredded finely 


One egg

1 Tablespoon milk 

Special equipment

Food processor

Rolling pin 

Pie pan 

Pastry brush 


Chop up the tomatoes and place them in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle two teaspoons of kosher salt over the tomatoes, give a shake, and let them hang out in the sink while you prepare your dough. 

Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse three times to mix together. Add the pieces of butter and process for approximately 10 seconds, or just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. 

Add ice water, drop by drop, through the feed tube with the machine running, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test the dough at this point by squeezing a small amount together, If it is crumbly, add a bit more water. 

Turn the dough out on a large piece of plastic wrap. (I’m partial to Stretch-Tite.) Grasping the ends of the plastic wrap with your hands, press the dough into a flat circle — this makes rolling easier than if the pastry is chilled as a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic and chill for about 15 minutes to a half-hour, while you prepare your filling. 

Preheat the oven to 400F. 

In a large mixing bowl, place the mozzarella, mayo, basil and a large pinch of kosher salt and mix together with a rubber spatula. 

Cut the pie dough into two equal pieces. Lightly butter (or spray with cooking spray) the pie plate you will be using. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the pastry to a thickness of one-eighth of an inch. Place the pastry in the pie plate, and press it into the bottom edges and along the sides. Trim the pastry using scissors or a sharp paring knife.  

Remove the tomatoes from the colander and place on top of the bottom pie layer. Using a rubber spatula, pour the mayo and cheese mixture and spread into an even layer. 

Roll out the second half of the pie dough, also to one-eighth inch, and add it to the top, pinching the sides together. Pro tip: Once you have your dough rolled to the desired thickness, you can wrap it around the rolling pin, then unroll it, like a window shade, across the top of the pie.

Using a fork or whisk, mix the egg well in a small bowl. Add the milk and whisk together. Using a pastry brush, paint the lid of the pie. Using a knife, cut scores into the crust — make a fun design if you’d like — to let the steam out while it bakes. 

Place pie on a large baking sheet and bake in a 400F degree oven for an hour; you’ll be able to see the insides bubbling through the cracks, and the crust will be a caramel color. 

Remove from the oven and let sit for a half-hour before serving. 

Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She's been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. She was furloughed from Smith for the summer and is using the time to work on her first cookbook. Send questions or comments to



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