Bite by Bite
Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten
I'm bad about getting really “into” something and then wanting to have it all the time - to the point that my family begins making looks at each other and making comments like, “That again?” And during the summer, it is usually fresh tomatoes. I go on a binge and have to have all things tomato. A couple of years ago I discovered a recipe for a tomato and vidalia onion pie that intrigued me. In my haste and excitement, however, I misread the directions and ended up using too much olive oil. The dish tasted fantastic even though it was a soupy mess.
When I recently ran across an article on the internet entitled “37 fresh tomato recipes for peak tomato season,” I briefly wondered if I had died and gone to Heaven. I couldn’t wait to check out the 37 recipes. My mouth was watering as I looked at picture after picture of all kinds of tomato delights. And as it turned out, there were several recipes for tomato pie. I bookmarked numerous recipes with the idea of heading out to Hensley’s Produce to pick up some homegrown tomatoes. But darn the luck, they were closed that day. I headed to HEB and proceeded to purchase a ridiculous amount of tomatoes. I came home and made one of the tomato pies, a different one from the one I had made previously. I knew it had tremendous potential when I saw that one of the ingredients was bacon. I made it and it tasted delicious but it was still soupy and this one didn’t even call for olive oil. Turns out, I was supposed to peel the tomatoes and then squeeze the juice out of them before assembling the pie. The idea of peeling tomatoes seemed a waste of time to me, especially considering that the skin is perfectly edible. And squeezing the juice out of tomatoes doesn’t rank high on my “things I want to do” list. I may break down and peel and squeeze tomatoes for a future iteration but I had already moved on to the next tomato recipe that I wanted to try. And as for the fam, Daughter said it smelled like pizza. She tried a little bit and then turned up her nose. She loves raw tomatoes but she hasn’t yet developed a taste for cooked tomatoes. Hubby liked it and said the flavor was a combination of lasagna and pizza.
The next day, even though I still had three of my HEB tomatoes, I cut out of work a little early and hightailed it out to Hensley’s to get there before they closed (or ran out of tomatoes). I sacked up numerous beauties and before I could make my way to my car, Mrs. Shirley and a couple of her grandkids talked me into a watermelon. Daughter had been hankering for one and I knew we had people coming in for the weekend, so it seemed like a good idea.
Once home, I couldn’t wait to make “baked tomato slices.” Upon Hubby’s arrival from work, he saw all my tomato slices laid out and gingerly asked, “Are you making another tomato pie?” I think I sensed his relief when I told him no, not tonight. The baked tomato slices were super easy and quick and may have been one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
I’ve long been a fan of a fresh Caprese salad and one of the 37 recipes was for a “stacked tomato and burrata salad.” I didn’t have any burrata but I knew I had some mozzarella and I thought a pretty stacked Caprese salad just might be the perfect breakfast. I’m including the recipes for “tomato pie,” “baked tomato slices” and “stacked tomato and burrata salad” for you to try.
—1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust
—4 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced
—½ pound bacon - cooked, drained, and chopped
—3 green onions, thinly sliced
—½ cup chopped fresh basil
—1 teaspoon dried oregano
—½ teaspoon garlic powder
—½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
—2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
—¼ cup mayonnaise
•Gather all ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
•In alternating layers, fill the pie crust with tomatoes, bacon, green onions, basil, oregano, garlic powder and red pepper.
•Stir together cheese and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Spread over the top of the pie. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
•Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 30 more minutes
Stacked Tomato and Burrata Salad
—1 vine-ripened tomato, cored and cut into ½ -inch slices
—Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
—¼ cup burrata cheese, or more to taste
—1 tablespoon torn fresh basil leaves, or to taste
—1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
•Place a tomato slice on a plate; season with sea salt and black pepper. Spread burrata cheese over the tomato slice and top with torn basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with another tomato slice. Repeat cheese and tomato layering process with remaining slices, finishing with a tomato slice.
Baked Tomato Slices
— olive oil, divided, or as needed
— 1 large tomato, cut into ½ -inch-thick slices
— 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
— 1 clove garlic, minced
— salt and ground black pepper to taste
•Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon olive oil.
•Arrange tomato slices on the baking sheet. Sprinkle rosemary and garlic over tomatoes and brush with remaining olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
•Bake in the preheated oven until tomatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes.