A Healthier Fresh Tomato Pie

A few months ago, my husband and I were in a restaurant in Lititz, PA, and saw Tomato Pie on the menu. Now when I was growing up, my family gathered occasionally to enjoy my Italian grandmother’s homemade tomato pies, which was our way of saying “pizza.” This new kind of tomato pie on the menu was nothing like pizza. It had a regular pie crust, was filled with large chunks of ripe tomatoes, and topped with a creamy cheesy topping. Really, it was heavenly.

Now that my garden is producing fresh tomatoes, I set out to make that tomato pie. The traditional recipe calls for 1 cup mayonnaise and 1-2 cups cheese – yikes! I searched for a recipe to meet my household’s nutritional needs – gluten free and no or low cholesterol. No success. So after gathering ideas from many recipes, I tried what I thought might work. Oh, it came out better than I’d hoped!  I changed the original recipe so much, I wondered if it would flop, but my husband and I both loved it! Here  ya go…

Fresh Tomato Pie – Gluten Free and Mostly Vegan

Ingredients:

1 already made unbaked pie crust (I use the King Arthur Flour recipe for gluten free pie crust)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

4 c tomatoes, seeded and cut in large chunks

1 cup 0% fat Greek yogurt (I guess you could sub vegan sour cream or Vegenaise to make this totally vegan)

3/4 cup + 1/4 cup shredded low fat (or Daiya) cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Arrange unbaked pie crust in pie pan, fill with pie weights (I use dry beans), and bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

2. Saute onion in oil 5 minutes in large frying pan. Turn off heat. Stir in fresh basil and tomatoes. Turn into baked pie crust. Bake in oven for another 10 minutes.

3. While pie is baking, mix together yogurt, 3/4 cup cheese, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste. When pie has baked for 10 minutes, remove from oven and spread yogurt mixture all over top. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over yogurt mixture. Bake for final 10 minutes until topping is melted and golden. The tomatoes should not be mushy, just heated through.

Depending on how watery your tomatoes are, there will be some juice in the bottom of the pie. I used Brandywines, which oozed a lot of water, but we didn’t mind at all. If you’d prefer a drier pie, you could let your cut tomatoes sit on some paper towels for a while to soak up the extra moisture before turning them into the frying pan.

Now if I can just remember how to insert a picture…there we go. I know, the Daiya didn’t fully melt – had no idea at the time that I was going to restart my blog 😉 Haha, we were just so happy with the pie I just had to share.

 Tomato Pie Slice

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Vegetable “lasagne”

Dan:  Hey, Babe, what’s for dinner?

Pam: Uh…vegetable lasagna, I think. Sort of. We’ll see. 🙂

Last post, I shared how I tend to think of vegetables first when it comes to planning meals. Today was the perfect example – driving home I thought, “I know I bought yellow squash at the farmer’s market on Sunday. And that cauliflower is just starting to get a few spots. Gotta use that. And I bought those 3 potatoes at the market, too. And I have all those tomatoes from the garden! Hmmm. I wonder if I can…”

So this is what I came up with and, oh, it was good!

For the tomato sauce:

Core, halve and seed about 15-20 tomatoes. Place tomatoes into 3 quart wide saucepan on medium high heat and cover for only about 10 minutes. (Wide pan is best so the liquid can evaporate and let the sauce get all concentrated and flavorful!) Remove the lid and, using tongs, begin pulling skins off the tomatoes. They should slip right off. Using a stick blender, blend remaining tomatoes in pan. Boil uncovered, stirring frequently, until reduced in half. Add 8-10 fresh basil leaves and salt to taste, and a few shakes of crushed red pepper if you like it a little spicy like we do!

Lacking fresh tomatoes, of course you could use your favorite jar or recipe of homemade sauce.  😉

While sauce is reducing, start preparing ingredients for layering:

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

2-3 large cloves garlic, minced

½ head cauliflower, sliced (it will crumble – that’s okay)

3 yellow zucchini or crookneck squash, sliced into coins

3 large Yukon gold potatoes, sliced

1-2 cups mozzarella

¼ cup grated romano

1. Saute onion and garlic in oil in large frying pan (I use a non-stick) for 5 min. Remove to small bowl. Set aside.

2. In same pan, put cauliflower slices, a light sprinkling of salt, and ½ c water. Steam till just barely tender. Strain. Remove cauliflower to another bowl. Set aside.

3. Do the same thing as in #2 to the zucchini slices and then the potato slices.

You have now dirtied 4 bowls, but only 2 pans!

Now to assemble:

Spoon about 1 cup tomato sauce into bottom of a 8×11” pan (enough to just cover).

Using half of each bowl of veg, place in layers over tomato sauce in pan: first potatoes, then onion/garlic mixture, then cauliflower, then zucchini, then ¾ -1 more cup of sauce, then ½-1 cup mozzarella, then 2 T romano. Repeat, ending with sauce and cheese on top. You should be able to make 2 full layers.

Cover with foil and bake in 375 oven for about 10 minutes. All of the vegetables are cooked already – they just have to be heated through. Then remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes till cheese is melted and golden. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into servings. This makes about 6 servings, depending on appetite! Note: For vegan option, use shredded Daiya mozzarella or make your favorite cashew “cheese.”

As gooey and fattening as this looks, the entire recipe only has 1 1/4 cups of cheese (if you choose to use that) and 1 tablespoon oil, so it’s actually a very “light” meal because the bulk of it is vegetables.

Can’t wait – there’s enough leftover for lunch tomorrow!