Story and photos by Meda Kessler
It’s ripe for the eating
Tracy Sterling Bristol has grown tomatoes since 1994. She took a hiatus last summer when she and her husband razed an old barn, recycled the good stuff and built a new home to replace their small 1984 ranch house on 2 acres in Colleyville. “We also grow blackberries, peppers and other stuff,” says Bristol. “Summer is canning season; I gave nearly everyone who worked on our house gift jars of the blackberry and mustang grape jelly that I make and can each year.”
Bristol says this year’s garden is minimal and not super pretty but that she started a couple dozen tomatoes in April along with a handful of other things that her 4-year-old grandbaby helped her plant. She also shops at local farmers markets.
“We cook at home about 90 percent of the time, and I’ve made and tweaked this recipe a number of times over the years. I think it may have started as a hybrid from recipes in Garden & Gun and Southern Living magazines. It’s well-loved.”
Bristol, who collects vintage Pyrex and cooks with the pieces daily, says she uses two specific 1950s glass pie plates when she doubles the recipe. “Pyrex calls the colors Lime and Flamingo Pink. They make the pies even more photogenic.”
Makes a single 9-inch pie
- 2 to 2½ pounds fresh tomatoes, any size, color or degree of ripeness
- Salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Cajun spice or any seasonings you prefer
- Baked pie crust for a 9-inch pan, scratch or store-bought
- 1 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped, with extra for garnish
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup instant mashed potato flakes (as a thickener, optional)
- 1 egg, beaten
- Olive oil, optional
Slice tomatoes ¼-inch thick. Blot excess juice from the slices; arrange on paper towels to dry slightly. Season to taste with salt, pepper and other desired seasonings.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange crust in a 9-inch pie pan and bake according to instructions. Remove from oven.
Spread onions in an even layer on the cooked pie crust.
Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl; mix well. Spread half the cheese mixture evenly on top of the onions.
Layer about half the tomatoes on top of the cheese mixture, then repeat, overlapping the top layer of tomatoes, if desired, to create a pretty pattern. Spray or brush with olive oil, if desired, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Garnish with fresh basil. Serve the tomato pie hot or cold.