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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

tomatoes

The humble tomato pie. Is there a better purpose for the scores of tomatoes piling up on farmers tailgate market tables right now? Not to be confused with the tomato pie of Italian-American descent, the Southern tomato pie revolves around three ingredients: tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise. Everything else—including the crust—is optional.  

Though it might seem like an Appalachian relic, Southern tomato pie actually grew to popularity in the 1970s in the Carolinas. Some conjecture that mayonnaise manufacturers invented the dish. No matter. Once you’ve tasted peak summer tomatoes roasted beneath a cheese-mayo topping, you’ll consider it a classic. 

Most recipes start by salting tomato slices and draining them on towels to remove excess moisture. This will help, but if you really want to prevent a soggy crust, you need to roast your tomatoes in advance. Slice tomatoes, lay them on sheet trays, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. A silicone baking mat, if you have one, makes this even easier. Roast at 250 degrees for two or three hours. Tomatoes will shrink considerably, so start with about three or four pounds to make sure you have enough. When you’re finished, tomatoes will be shriveled and absolutely packed with flavor. By using this roasting technique, any variety of tomato—green heirloom, red Roma, black cherry—works for tomato pie.  

Use whatever type of shell you prefer, from a scratch-made buttery pastry to biscuits to cornbread. For summertime ease, there’s no shame in using a store-bought crust. Or omit the crust altogether and assemble your pie in a casserole dish.  

Place a single overlapping layer of tomatoes on your crust. Top with a layer of thinly sliced sweet onions, such as cipollini, and torn basil. Repeat until you’ve run out of tomatoes. If you want, reserve a few of the best-looking tomatoes to place on top of the pie. You could also include crispy bacon bits, sweet corn kernels, or other herbs.  

Mix together half a cup of mayonnaise and a teaspoon of mustard. Fold in one and a half cups of shredded or crumbled cheese. Cheddar and Parmesan are standard choices, but goat cheese would also be great. Season with salt and a dash of hot sauce. Spread the mixture on top of the pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy! 

At markets right now you’ll also find berries, peaches, eggplant, peppers, okra, beans, potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage, lettuce, and much more. In addition to produce, markets offer meats, eggs, bread, cheese, fermented products, baked goods, and beverages. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.

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