As soon as the first tomato blossom turns into a tiny green orb, people start calling Chef & the Farmer to find out if tomato pie is on the menu. In a restaurant where we sell more big hunks of meat than I'd like to admit, tomato pie outsells everything all summer. If you have access to two different colors of tomatoes, combine them here—one for the roasted portion and another for the fresh. It's a nice visual touch.
This tomato pie filling recipe is recommended for Vivian Howard's Roasted and Fresh Tomato Pie, but can be used to fill any tomato pie recipe as desired.
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- 3 1⁄2 lb. vine-ripe tomatoes (about 12), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice, divided
- 2 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced with the grain
- 1 tsp. picked thyme
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄3 cup packed whole basil leaves
Toss half of the diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar. Set them over a colander to drain while you get everything else ready, at least an hour.
Preheat your oven to 375°. In a medium sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter and then add the onion and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat until deeply caramelized. This will take about 45 minutes. If the onion gets away from you and burns a little, add 1⁄4 cup of water to the pan, scrape up the overbrowned bits, and keep going. In the end, you have a scant 2⁄3 cup caramelized onion.
Toss the remaining diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, thyme, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a sheet tray with as much room separating the individual pieces as possible. Slide the tray onto the middle rack of your oven and roast for 30–35 minutes. You're looking for the tomatoes to dry out and brown slightly.
Once all the individual components are done, stir together the onion, the fresh and roasted diced tomatoes, the remaining salt, sugar, black pepper, and basil.