I can’t pin point the time or place that I realized what I always called pizza, as in pizza pie, was being referred to as simply “pie”. I still hesitate to make the adjustment. It’s not that I don’t hold the baker of fermented pizza dough (mixed from imported triple-o flour, or flour from wheat grown and milled locally, then baked to order in a wood burning brick oven) in high esteem. I do. It’s simply that for me, the image brought on by the word pie is and always will be all American, and apple (O.K.maybe lemon meringue, chocolate, blueberry or rhubarb), and sitting on a Norman Rockwell windowsill to cool.
With the exception of the tomato pie. The one I recall fondly because hey, it was my first. That tomato pie was made with pre-made, grocery store pie crust, already rolled and ready to bake in its shiny aluminum pan. The inside brimmed and bubbled with a filling of sliced summer tomatoes, cheddar cheese mixed with mayo, sliced scallions, and a crisp butter drenched Ritz cracker crumb topping. The crust was always soggy after baking, but I didn’t know enough to care. I loved it and the summer I found the recipe, I baked it and took it to every backyard picnic I was invited to.
Since that time, I’ve mastered pie dough, or pastry crust if you must. I know the difference between a pâte brisée and a pâte sucrée. For a savory filling, Cheddar and mayo with Ritz cracker crust doesn’t hold the same sway anymore. But give me a sniff of the sweet earthy smell of summer tomatoes and all I think about is that cheesy tomato pie.
Step 1: Roll dough 1/2 inch larger than pie or tart pan with removable bottom. Trim excess by rolling over top edge of pan with rolling pin. Chill dough in refrigerator until cold to touch and prep remaining ingredients.
Note: These are indeed individual pies, which some would argue are tartlets. Call them what you like, for me they are defined by their summer tomato sweetness and gooey melted cheese.