Tuesday, February 14, 2012

At Your Request.........Tomato Pie!

It is true that, if you allow yourself, you will learn something new every day! In my last post, I mentioned how my Italian Grandmother would make tomato pie (not pizza) on Friday nights. Since, I’ve been inundated with emails, some from as far away as Ireland, asking me for her recipe. Apparently, there are a lot of lactose intolerant people who can’t eat regular pizza because of the milk-rich mozzarella cheese that is slathered on top. (Quite frankly, I received a little too much information on what happens to these people when they consume dairy products.)

Anyway, you have to remember that I was only seven or eight years old when she was making the tomato pie and wasn’t taking notes. And with my Grandmother long gone (as are most of her children, including my own mother), I had to do a little CSI’ing to help the readers who so very nicely took the time to ask me about this item that I described as “heaven”. My results surprised me.

My first thought was to search “tomato pie recipe” and see what was out there; and let me tell you, they didn’t come close to what I was writing about. Most of the modern recipes start with using pre-made pie crusts and placing tomato slices around the bottom. At that point, each recipe took different variations, using everything; bacon, onions, peppers, eggs, mushrooms, and always, always cheese. They looked great, and I guess because they are in a pie crust and have tomatoes, they can technically be called a “tomato pie”. But most of them looked like a quiche, and nothing at all like what I remembered.

Not Grandmom's!
Time to go to plan B and call my 85-year-old aunt, one of my Grandmother’s few surviving offspring. Now, I love my Aunt Angelina (Lee to family), but talking to her on the phone is, well, rather difficult since every conversation starts with “this damn hearing aid isn’t working……who is this?” But, because I wrote the article that readers were asking about, I decided to take one for the team and call her. It went something like this:
“Aunt Lee, do you remember when Grandmom made tomato pie?”
“What….wait a minute, let me turn down this damn TV….okay, made what?”
“Tomato pie. How did Grandmom make the tomato pie?”
“Wait…..let me get my glasses….okay, tomato pie? Why are you asking?”
“I want to make it. I need the recipe”
“Recipe, what recipe? You make the dough, a little gravy, a little olive oil….what recipe? Anybody with half a brain can make it…..wait a minute, this damn hearing aid….”
 Plan C.  We will now use the trial and error method of making Grandmom’s tomato pie. The one thing I know for sure, it wasn't made in a pie dish of any kind. And I wish I could say that I took out my Kitchen Aid mixer and made homemade pizza dough, but instead, I walked down the street and bought it for $2. (That’s right, a lot of pizza restaurants will sell balls of dough, cheap!) The other thing I remembered is that there really wasn't much to it. So after just one attempt, I think I nailed it:
Mangiare a Nonne!!!!
Grandmom’s Tomato Pie:
Roll dough out to desired thickness (Grandmom’s was thin)
Brush entire surface of dough with extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle gently with a good quality parmesan cheese (much less milk fat than mozzarella)
Spread favorite tomato sauce thinly over dough - thin being key to making a great tomato pie. (I use my grandmother’s recipe for “gravy”, so if not using homemade, use a good quality jar sauce).
Top with an additional dusting Parmesan and a sprinkle of garlic salt.
Put in 400 degree oven (on pizza stone, if one is available) and bake about 15 minutes or until crust is browning and sauce is slightly bubbling.

There it is! Easy as pie! (sorry). Maybe Aunt Lee was right, anyone with half a brain can make this, just use the other half to decide which vino goes best with it! And enjoy! Also, thanks for asking. Grandmom would be happy.


  1. Hi JoAnn, I love reading your blog. This Irish girl loves tomato pie, and with half a brain and your recipe, I think I can do it! Thanks, Jean

  2. Thanks so much Jean! It is easy, as they say, if I can make it, anyone can! Thanks for the support on the blog, too!

  3. YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!! thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for reading! And this would go great with Cosmo's!!

  5. Thanks Karen. It is really good, and so, so easy to make!