story by Doug Smith
As I sit outside and gaze at the beautiful stars, I can relax and reflect on the tasks of the day. I’m sitting outside listening to noisy crickets and frogs with no cell phone in hand. It’s beautiful. Today, multiple tasks were completed around the house. It was truly an average Saturday. I visited my local farmer’s market, as I do most Saturday’s, and picked out some bright red tomatoes. Some of them were large enough to cover an entire slice of bread. It always amazes me how memories become so vivid when we connect them to food. I could almost hear my dad’s voice saying, “For me, there’s nothing better than a tomato sandwich on such a hot day.”
Growing up in Darlington, my dad would always grow his tomatoes for us to enjoy all summer long. With all the different ways to enjoy this delicious fruit, I would say that there is something so special about a tomato sandwich. It shines in its simplicity. In reference to my dad, I would now say, “There is nothing better than a tomato sandwich on such a hot day.” I enjoy keeping things simple.
I was once told by a dear friend and mentor, Chef John Kacala, to “keep it simple, let honest ingredients shine. Remember, it’s not what you put into the recipe, it’s what you get from it that counts.” One day not that long ago I finally understood what Chef was trying to teach me. It’s not the meal or the dish that’s important, it’s the time spent sitting around the table sharing stories of the day and dreams of tomorrow with friends and family. This is what you get from a great meal. If your table is like mine, we’re always trying to overcome the issue of the cellphone. This can be a difficult topic to address and keep everyone happily engaged. What has worked for us over the years is to get the whole family involved in preparing dinner (it’s hard to text or participate in social media with dough on your hands). I think of his advice quite often as we prepare food for friends and family. Keep it simple and let the food shine. Those words bring me to the tomato pie. It is so simple and so delicious. The way we prepared it allows the sweet tomato to shine and the memories of days past to be relived.
- 3 large fresh tomatoes, sliced thin
- 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 thyme sprig, stem removed
- 1/2 cup green onion or sweet onion, chopped
- 9-inch pie shell (prebaked)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- salt and ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Slice tomatoes thin and place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Roast at 350º for 10 to 15 minutes or until the edges start to show color.*
- Layer the tomato slices, herbs, and onion in pre-baked pie shell. Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise.
- Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
*Alternate Prep: Slice tomatoes thin, place the tomatoes in a colander (single layer.) Sprinkle with salt and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.
Get more from Doug Smith by following him on Facebook and Instagram at “Doug the Food Guy”.