Recipe and photo's by Melanie Hutti.
Gardening has been in my blood since I was a child. The only thing that separated me from my grandmother and her garden was a dusty gravel road. My grandmother was widowed at 50, and I was her constant companion. I was permitted to help in the garden, frequenting the small space between my grandmother and her tiller, holding on beside her hands as she trudged from row to row.
She already seemed so old at the time. Fifty years (minus two days) fall between my grandmother and I. Presently she is 92 and I am 42. I now understand how young she was to be alone, and why the solace and work of the garden was her refuge.
Over recent years, after moving to a small farm, I have rediscovered gardening. The dew in the mornings, the smell of the earth, and the heavy work get me out of the bed. The digging, hoeing, and planting keep me grounded, especially when the world pulls me in a million directions. The entire process, from planting to preservation, is beautiful. It reminds me that all of the seasons, both burdened and blessed, pass quickly with the setting sun.
I am grateful to still have my grandmother, as well as the legacy she built from her humble garden. Her kitchen was always warm and the food was abundant. She told me once she believed that if she stacked all of the pies and cakes she had baked over her lifetime they would almost reach heaven. (I’m pretty sure they do.)
This year, my garden was abundant with voluntary tomatoes. Heirloom gardening is the gift that keeps on giving. I had over fifty plants grow voluntarily from seeds of tomatoes that had fallen from the vine the season before. There were tomatoes in the squash, tomatoes in the beans, and tomatoes in the tomatoes. I ran out of stakes, and allowed some to crawl along the ground, which is completely improper garden etiquette. Needless to say, I had an excess of tomatoes.
The Cherry Tomato Pie is one simple way to enjoy these fruits of abundance before the summer officially passes. Its simplicity allows the tomatoes to take the spotlight, accompanied by fresh herbs and a warm, flakey crust. It is best enjoyed on the back porch with a glass of organic red wine or sun kissed sweet tea.
Cherry Tomato Pie
2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1tsp table salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into chunks and kept cold in the refrigerator
½-¾ cut very cold water
1 cup of shredded white cheddar cheese
About 3 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved (but any sliced tomatoes will work)
Fresh or dried thyme
Crushed red pepper
1 egg white, beaten
Measure flour into a large, wide bowl. Whisk in sugar and salt.
“Cut” butter into flour with a pastry cutter or knife. (Using your hands to do this step adds too much heat to the butter.) The butter should roughly be the size of peas.
Stir in ½ cup of cold water until it is absorbed. If it appears dry, you can add a bit more. It should stick together loosely in a ball at this stage.
Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic/wax wrap, and mold it into a disc approximately 1 inch thick. Wrap the dough completely.
Chill the dough for two hours. It can also be frozen at this point for later use.
Remove the refrigerated dough. Immediately roll out onto a lightly floured surface into a circle, slightly larger than the Barebones Cast Iron Flat Pan. Place crust on lightly greased pan, with crust slightly over the edge.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly on the crust.
Cover the crust with halved tomatoes.
Roll edges of crust over tomatoes and pinch in place. Brush crust with egg white.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Place thyme on top.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned.
- Cool before serving. Top with parmesan cheese and any additional fresh herbs
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melanie Hutti is the stay-at-home gypsy of Gypsy Hill Farm located in central Kentucky. She loves to travel, but equally loves her time on her farm with her husband and two teenage sons. She is a full-time Occupational Therapist in the public schools, where she uses gardening as a therapeutic activity for her students with exceptional needs. She spends her evenings and summers off in her garden and behind the camera with her hobby photography business, Gypsy Hill Photography. She loves cooking, canning, and serving as a missionary in Haiti. She is a collector of hobbies and loves anything food and nature centered.