An Elegant Way to Capitalize on the Year’s Best Tomatoes
It’s my favorite time of year for food. As a vegetarian since 1978, veggies are my mainstay, and right now there are more choices for ultra-fresh, locally grown veggies than at any other time. A recent trip to the local farmer’s market yielded delicacies you rarely find in any supermarket: wax beans, a spicy lettuce mix, white eggplant and okra, all organic.
The best part is that my garden is overflowing with kale, chard and tomatoes. I’ve been busy poring over my cookbooks to find new ways to prepare my tomatoes, and reminding myself of some of my old favorites.
One of my all-time favorite tomato recipes is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It can be extremely simple if you want to use a prepared pie crust, or quite elegant if you want to make and bake it in a tart crust. For years, I simply filled a regular pie crust, but once I tried the tart crust, it’s been hard for me to go back. It’s just really excellent, and the presentation is beautiful. Still, if time is short, this pie is so tasty, and so easy, it’s worth doing whether or not you go for the tart. Here’s the recipe:
2 T olive oil
2 small celery ribs
1 carrot, finely diced
1-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T chopped parsley
5 large basil leaves
Tart pastry or pie crust
Salt and freshly milled pepper
3 eggs, well beaten
Warm the oil in a heavy pot, add the vegetables and herbs, and stew covered, over low heat for 1 hour. Occasionally give the pot a stir to make sure nothing is sticking, adding a few tablespoons water if the pot seems dry. Pass the vegetables though a food mill or puree. (I use a Vitamix to get an exceptionally smooth filling.) While they’re cooking, prepare the pastry or pie crust, line a 9-inch tart or pie pan, and prebake at 400° for 15-25 minutes or until lightly colored.
Season the puree with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a little pepper. Stir in the eggs and taste for salt. Pour the filing into the shell and bake until it appears set and a cake tester comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Here’s a tart recipe in case you want to go that route. You can omit the citrus zest for this savory pie.