Tomato Potato Pie
After a long summer of half-hearted gardening, the vines around my house are starting to brown. Nights are getting longer and colder and as they do, the garden slows down its once aggressive turnout of bulging tomatoes, glossy peppers and giant squash.
The tomato plants that ramped up production throughout August and September, as if in a last ditch effort against the impending autumn, are stopped dead in their tracks by the changing weather. Medium-sized green tomatoes hang on the vines trapped in time, seemingly unable to mature further.
Potatoes turned out to be the easiest attempted crop this season. After digging some holes and dropping a few “seed potatoes” into the ground, the waiting game began. According to some surface level information I found on the interwebs, once the stalks that grow from the potatoes begin to die, it is time to rustle around in the dirt and see what you’re left with. In my case, it was a couple pounds of perfect gold and purple fingerling potatoes. Over half of those I dug up were eaten completely or partially. By what, I’m not sure. But the ones that made it out unscathed are undoubtedly my favorite potatoes I’ve ever encountered.
Just like the tomato whose skin splits under its own weight, the things you tend, love and care for are somehow perfect despite any shortcomings. The feeling of watching peppers emerge from their blossoms, tomatoes turn bright red or potato stalks shoot up is a difficult one to describe. It’s similar to finding your sourdough starter has more than doubled in size, pulling perfectly risen biscuits from the oven or eating the first pickle from that long awaited jar in the pantry. There is pride, sure, but even before that there is the giddy excitement. I think this is the right word.
Giddy - disorienting and alarming, but exciting. Disorienting because a creation, whether in the garden, in the art world or in the kitchen, is almost always something more than the sum of its parts. It is briefly disorienting to witness the space between the parts that create something and the whole that is somehow more. The excitement comes next and the pure, all encompassing nature of that excitement can be alarming.
The word giddy comes from the old english word gidig, which meant insane, mad, stupid or literally poseessed by a spirit. And perhaps if anyone had witnessed the uncontrollable happy dance that ensued at seeing my sourdough starter double for the first time, or if anyone (other than my cat) had heard my excited shouts at unearthing my first potato they would have justifiably thought I had been possessed by a spirit.
The thing about gardening, about growing the food that so many of us are quite disconnected from these days, is that you get to experience the giddy excitement twice. Once when you harvest whatever fruit has been produced, and once when you make a meal of it.
This week, with a few of the larger potatoes and tomatoes that had piled up from the end-of-season garden, I made Tomato Potato Pie. It’s not quite tomato pie, not quite quiche, but it is delicious.
2 pie shells (homemade or store bought - bake before adding pie ingredients)
4 large tomatoes
4 medium potatoes
2 cups cheese (I used cheddar and jarlsberg, but almost any cheese can work)
1 cup mayonnaise (greek yogurt, or sourcream could work)
⅓ cup milk
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp chili powder
- Preheat oven to 400º fahrenheit. Bake pie shells while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
- Slice tomatoes, salt them and place in colander or in between layers of paper towels to drain them of their juices.
- Slice potatoes very thin, mince garlic. Saute potatoes and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper until tender.
- Combine mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheese, milk, eggs, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper and mix until uniform.
- Place potato slices and garlic in the bottom of pre-cooked pie shells. Cover with a thin layer of cheese. Add one layer of tomatoes, salt, pepper, a few pieces of basil leaves and another thin layer of cheese. Add another layer of tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil and a thin layer of cheese. (keep adding layers as tomatoes and pie shell depth allow. )
- Pour mayonnaise and egg mixture over pies. Top with any cheese and small tomato slices that are left. Bake until tops are golden brown. Enjoy!
This recipe is easy to make vegan. Below are the substitutes I use.
Mayonnaise and cheese: I use this tofu cheese sauce recipe as a substitute for mayonnaise and cheese. Mix it with whichever egg substitute is being used and pour over the pies. Make the cheese sauce thicker than the recipe calls for to help keep your Tomato Potato Pie from becoming runny.