Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summery, Succulent Tomatoes

Riley Adams Food Blog Post pic It’s hard to beat summertime tomatoes.

Winter tomatoes are anemic shadows of the hearty summer variety. I won’t deign to buy them in winter, unless desperation drives me to it. Sometimes in winter, I’ll get Roma tomatoes at the store; their showy red pulls my attention from the bloodless tomatoes beside them.

In summer, it’s a different story. I step out my back door, pull tomatoes right off the vine, slice them and put them on bread. The drippier, the better.

For me, growing up in the South, summer and tomatoes are intertwined. I remember sweltering days when my mother drove us to the swimming pool for relief from the heat. We’d stop by the Farmer’s Market on the way and men fanned themselves with their straw hats as we picked through their tomatoes.

Neighbors would come by my parents’ house with a bag of tomatoes from their over-productive gardens and stay for a visit on the screened porch under the whirring ceiling fans.

Nowadays, you can still drive through any small, Southern town and see roadside carts filled with okra, snap beans, corn, and tomatoes.

One of my favorite summer treats is tomato pie. I’ll eat it hot from the oven or even eat it straight from the fridge for breakfast.

IMG_5328 Tomato Pie

4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced

10 fresh, chopped basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1 frozen deep-dish pie crust (9 inches)

1 cup grated mozzarella

1 cup grated cheddar

1 cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste.

Bake pie crust according to package directions. For the pie, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your peeled, sliced tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Drain in colander for 10 minutes. Pat with paper towels to remove excess liquid (and prevent the pie from being soggy.)

Layer in the pie shell as follows: tomato slices, basil, green onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix together the grated cheeses and mayonnaise and spread the mixture on the top of the tomato/basil/green onions.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the pie is light brown. Cool.


The Memphis Barbeque Series, by Riley Adams (Elizabeth Spann Craig) will be released May 2010 from Berkley Prime Crime.

I hope you’ll also visit me at my other blog:

Mystery Writing is Murder


  1. Wow - you really brought back my own memories of my father's garden (outside of Pittsburgh, PA) - not the South but we're Italian! So growing the *best* tomatoes in the neighborhood is a matter of Garden Pride. I miss that so much now, living in the city. Took it for granted, of course. (Like all kids.)

    Thanks for the Tomatoe Pie recipe! I'm thrilled to have a legendary recipe of the South from a true Southern-born American girl.(Can't wait to read your Memphis BBQ Mysteries! Mouth already watering..)

    Have a great day!

  2. Thanks, Cleo! Oh, I can only imagine the competition for the best tomatoes. It sounds like a great neighborhood to grow up in...

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. The pie sounds yummy. Can't wait to try it. Avery

  4. I love tomatoes...I can eat them like apples, so this is a recipe I will definitely have to try. Thanks!

    Julie (posting "anonymously" because I'm on my laptop and this computer is weird.)

  5. Thanks so much, Avery and Julie! It's very good. I ate nearly the whole pie last night for supper. :)


  6. Okay, Elizabeth, because you have credibility with me, I’m gonna pass this recipe to Donna—the only way it can possible be cooked; I’d turn it into Lord knows what. Having said that…geez, Tomato pie? Man, that’s…unusual. But, I gotta admit, it looks great. So, since I’ve sworn to live outside the lines in my dotage…I’m gonna try it.

    Best regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  7. You are so right about winter tomatoes--it's like they're a completely different vegetable (or are they fruits?) from those that actually smell and taste like real tomatoes.

    Nice shiny new blog!

  8. Hi Galen and Alan!

    I promise you'll enjoy it, Galen. And Donna will find it easy to fix. I know you used to live in Alabama, it'll be like the South is running in your veins again. :)

    Alan--I think they're fruits. And so much better than the hothouse winter stuff.


  9. Being from Ohio, it took us a year to realize that spring is tomato season here in Phoenix. One of the things we miss most is local produce - grocery store sweet corn is just not the same!

  10. I'm with "Anonymous", also from Ohio. And, I recently had a conversation with a friend on Facebook as to what I miss - Real tomatoes, strawberries, peaches. Can't beat Ohio apples, and I've never found cider that tasted as good. And, Lake Erie perch. (But we said you have to be from northern Ohio to understand that. There isn't a fish as good in the world.) Thanks, Elizabeth. It's only 10:22 in Arizona; I have 2 and a half hours until lunch, and you made me hungry.

    Lesa -

  11. Hi Anon--Wow, Phoenix would be quite an adjustment from OH.

    Lesa--Those apples sound wonderful. I'm hungry now, too. :(

  12. I've never had tomato pie, but it sounds absolutely incredible. I can't wait to try it...