Ken Haedrich is the author of over a dozen cookbooks and his latest -- "The Harvest Baker" -- delivers unexpected ways to bake with fruits, veggies and herbs. He joined us to share a perfect summer recipe from the book, Tomato Slab Pie.
Tomato Slab Pie
A slab pie, be it savory or sweet, refers to any pie that’s baked in a jelly roll pan instead of a round pan. There are advantages to this architectural arrangement, perhaps the most important being that for roughly the same amount of effort, you end up with an attractive dish that serves 12 to 15 people instead of the usual 8 to 10. So slab pies are a natural for large summer gatherings. This all-tomato version, finished with a dusting of snipped chives and garlic, is as good as you’ll encounter. The tomatoes are enhanced by a generous coat of Dijon mustard on the crust, while the cream and cheese turn the tomatoes into something like a tomato gratin.
Makes 12 to 15 servings
- Slab Pie Dough (and Shell)
- 4 large tomatoes, cored and halved
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 21/2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2–3 tablespoons chopped chives
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
1?Prepare the slab pie shell; refrigerate. You may also freeze it if you want to make it several days ahead. (Cover it with plastic wrap, and overwrap with foil before freezing.)
2?Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) when you’re ready to start assembling the pie. Put one rack in the bottom of your oven, and position another in the middle. Using your finger, push most of the seeds out of each tomato half, but not all of them; you want the tomatoes to be a little juicy. Cut the tomatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices.
3?Spoon the mustard into the pie shell. Using the back of the spoon, smear it over the entire bottom. Scatter half of the cheddar evenly over the shell.
4?Make two or three lengthwise rows of tomato slices in the shell. If your tomatoes are quite large, you’ll only have room for two rows. Overlap them by quite a bit, so they form a thick tomato layer. Dice some of the extra slices, and fill in any gaps between or outside the rows with these smaller chunks.
5?Drizzle the heavy cream here and there over the tomatoes. Salt and pepper them liberally. Mix the Parmesan with the remaining cheddar in a small bowl, and scatter the cheese over the top of the pie. Sprinkle on the chives and minced garlic.
6?Bake the pie on the lower rack for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375°F (190°C), move the pie to the middle rack, and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until quite bubbly and a deep golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for at least 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. If at any point in the baking you notice that the crust is puffing up a bit in a certain area, take a long skewer and poke through the filling and pastry. The bubble will immediately collapse. Refrigerate leftovers. Reheat, loosely covered with foil, in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes.