Category Archives: Fruits, Vegetables, Plants

Southern Tomato Pie

In that flaky crust is a whopping three and a half pounds of tomatoes, cooked down with caramelized onions and herbs and cozily blanketed with an oh-so-Southern hit of mayo and a not-so-Southern-but-really-really-good dose of fontina and parmesan. More tomatoes sit on top—fresh instead of roasted—for a pretty visual touch alongside some leaves of basil. It’s a gorgeous pie, and to be perfectly honest, one of the best things to come out of our test kitchen all summer.


For the pie crust

1 14 cups all-purpose flour
2 12 tsp. granulated sugar
12 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter cut into 12-inch cubes
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ice-cold water
12 tsp. white vinegar

For the filling and topping

3 1⁄2 lb. vine-ripe tomatoes (about 12), cored, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice, divided
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. sugar, divided
1 tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced with the grain
1 tsp. picked thyme
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
14 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
13 cup packed whole basil leaves
12 cup mayonnaise
13 cup grated fontina
13 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 large Roma or heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced and blotted dry with paper towels


Make the pie crust: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium for a few seconds. Begin adding the butter one cube at a time. Continue until the flour is speckled and crumbly, about 4 minutes. With the mixer still running, add the water and vinegar until just combined. Do not overmix. Press the dough into a 6-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Bring the crust to room temperature and lightly butter a 10-inch metal pie pan. Preheat the oven to 400°. Dust your counter and rolling pin lightly with flour and roll the crust slightly larger than your pan. Lay the crust in the pan and press gently into its edges. Cut off the edges that hang over and discard. Freeze for at least 15 minutes or until you’re ready to blind-bake.
Lay foil or parchment paper on top of the crust and weigh that down with dried beans or rice. Blind-bake the shell for 30 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil or parchment and bake 5 minutes more. Set the cooked crust aside as you prepare the filling.
Make the filling: Toss half of the diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar. Set them over a colander to drain while you get everything else ready, at least an hour.
Lower your oven to 375°. In a medium sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter and then add the onion and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat until deeply caramelized. This will take about 45 minutes. If the onion gets away from you and burns a little, add 1⁄4 cup of water to the pan, scrape up the overbrowned bits, and keep going. In the end, you have a scant 2⁄3 cup caramelized onion.
Toss the remaining diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, thyme, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a sheet tray with as much room separating the individual pieces as possible. Slide the tray onto the middle rack of your oven and roast for 30-35 minutes. You’re looking for the tomatoes to dry out and brown slightly.
Once all the individual components are done, stir together the onion, the fresh and roasted diced tomatoes, the remaining salt, sugar, black pepper, and basil.
Make the topping and finish the pie: In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, fontina, and Parmigiano. Spoon the filling into your blind-baked crust. Top with the cheese mixture and tomato slices. Bake in the middle of your oven for 30 minutes. You can serve this warm or at room temperature. Both have their virtues.

High-Bionutrient Crop Production Using Green Basalt Rock Dust

Tamatem Ma’Amrine

Tamatem Ma’Amrine is a Moroccan dish of roasted tomatoes stuffed with albacore, capers, olives and preserved lemon..

Tamatem Ma'Amrine (click to enlarge)

Adapted from a recipe by Claudia Roden

Carve a lid out of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides as you would a jack-o’-lantern.  Don’t let the walls get too thin, or the tomatoes will split while roasting. Turn the tomatoes upside down and let the water drain.

Meanwhile, flake apart US Pacific troll or line-caught albacore and toss gently in extra virgin olive oil with bits of roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped capers and black olives, thinly slivered preserved lemon and chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Season tuna mixture with cracked coriander, fennel and white sesame seeds and stuff into the tomatoes.

Drizzle with a little more olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked pepper.  Roast in a 375 degree oven until slightly blackened, perhaps 30 minutes.

Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold; a crisp salad goes well in either case.

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays

© Monterey Bay Aquarium
© Monterey Bay Aquarium

Seafood Watch: Tuna, Albacore

Healing The Planet Through Agriculture

“We must continually bear in mind that the human body is the tool of the spirit…. We can ask ourselves whether we make our bodies unfit for the execution of the intentions, aspirations, and impulses of our lives if we become bound by and dependent upon our bodies through an unsuitable diet.” ~ Rudolf Steiner


Biodynamic agriculture considers the farm or garden to be a self-contained organism that exists in a larger framework of a living, dynamic cosmos. The aim is to work with those energies within the farm system in order to increase the health and vitality of the soil, the crops, the farm animals, even the farmer. But biodynamics was never just focused on agricultural techniques. It was conceived of as a new way of thinking about the connection between farming, nutrition, and our spiritual nature. Steiner gave much thought to the effect of foods on the whole human being- the physical, psychological, and the spiritual. He pointed out, way back in the 1920’s, that people “in our modern age” have increasingly lost the instinct for what is good or bad for them to eat. Steiner explained that in addition to the physical substances food provides for our nutrition, it also needs to provide vital forces for the development of our higher spiritual capacities, and acknowledged this to be a factor reducing people’s ability to make strides with a more spiritual nature. ~ Elizabeth Candelario (Co-Director, Demeter Assoc.)

US farmers cautiously growing hemp again after 56 years of brain-dead prohibition

by Mark Frauenfelder

Hemp is a useful crop. It’s used to make paper, cloth, food, fuel, and many other products. But hemp farming in the United States has been illegal for 56 years. The government outlawed hemp cultivation because it didn’t want people hiding marijuana crops in hemp fields (they look the same, but hemp does not contain psychoactive compounds, at least not enough to matter).

Interestingly, products made from hemp are legal in the US, but they must be imported from countries that aren’t as insufferably schoolmarmish. This year, however, US farmers are starting to grow hemp again. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use, and some farmers are taking this as permission to grow non-psychoactive hemp in those states. (Hemp, both the inert and psychoactive varieties, is still prohibited under federal law). The first company in line to buy US-grown hemp is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

Alternet’s April M. Short has a good article about the movement.

It’s That Time of Year

Time to begin “putting by” the last of the summer’s vegetables for the long winter ahead.  Up today are the last of the homegrown heirloom tomatoes, both hot-ish (Anaheim and Jalapeño) and sweet (banana) peppers (the poblano and serranos are still growing) and an early bushel of Blueridge Mountain-grown golden delicious apples.

The peeled and cored apples have been lightly simmered in fresh-from-the-well water with a little cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.  Once cool, the apples will be ground into applesauce and stored in the freezer.

The tomatoes have been roasted with a touch of sea salt and will be frozen as-is.

I haven’t decided how to preserve the hot peppers yet.  I might roast some of them and simply split, seed and freeze the rest.

The banana peppers, of course, are being fermented and refrigerated for use on deli-style sandwiches (my absolute favorite), in salads, egg dishes and other various and sundry things.  Here’s a super-simple recipe to lacto-ferment peppers (or practically any other vegetable)..

40 ounces cool, fresh water (you may have a little left over)
2 ounces (by weight) sea salt
1/2 cup raw cider vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons pickling spice, divided (optional)

Put the water in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a rapid boil. Add the pickling spices and salt and stir until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the salt water is cooling, wash the peppers to remove any remaining leaves, dirt or bugs. Using a sharp knife, slice the peppers into 1/8-inch rounds. Fill 2 quart-sized Mason jars with the sliced peppers, leaving about 1-1/2 inches of head room. Pour 1/4 cup of vinegar into each jar.

Once the water has cooled to room temperature, add enough to each jar to come nearly all the way to the top.

Screw the lids on finger-tight and set aside in a warm place (68-72 degrees) for 5 days, “burping” the lids once a day until the fermentation is complete. Transfer the peppers to the refrigerator or root cellar and consume within about 3 months.

What are you preserving this year?  Let us know in the comments!