The history of southern tomato pie is largely based on conjecture. Some accounts point to 19th century Shaker recipes for pies with ripe tomatoes, cream, and bacon. David Shields, a historian of southern food and the author of Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine, writes that savory tomato pies have roots in the south as far back as the 1830s when they included meat.
The version made today with mayonnaise and shredded cheese has origins in the 1950s. Nancie McDermott, the North Carolina-based author of Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate, says she’d put the pie in the “modern-classic category,” surmising that it’s a product of 20th-century magazine editors, Junior League cookbooks and Southern Living magazine all coming up with tasty ways to make use of summer’s abundance.
And, here is my version:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working with the dough
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Low Carb/Gluten Free Crust
1 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon oat fiber (or coconut flour)
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or coconut oil, ghee or butter)
4 large fresh vine ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup regular mayonnaise
2 slices bacon, cooked, diced and fat reserved
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
For regular crust:
Pulse flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a processor until moist crumbs form.
Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and with floured fingers press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the side of the pan.
Freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes; prick all over with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees F.until golden, pressing with a spoon if it puffs up, about 25 to 30 minutes; cool for 10 minutes before filling.
For low carb crust:
In a 9-inch pie plate mix parmesan cheese, almond flour, oat fiber, egg, bacon fat, and salt with a fork. Press onto the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool for 10 minutes before filling.
To finish the pie:
Place sliced tomatoes on a double thickness of paper towels for an hour to drain off some of their moisture.
Place ½ cup shredded cheese in the bottom of the crust.
Place sliced tomatoes over the cheese, overlapping slightly.
Sprinkle bacon and red onion over the tomato slices.
Mix mayonnaise and remaining shredded cheddar cheese together. Spread the mixture over the sliced tomatoes, spreading the topping to the edges of the crust.
Sprinkle dried basil over the top.
Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake the pie for about 30 minutes until browned and bubbly. Let the pie rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. The pie is also good served at room temperature.
2 center-cut skin-on salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
1 teaspoon Asian chili oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh garlic
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
Place the salmon fillets, flesh-side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned about 1 minute. Using a fish spatula ora flat spatula, carefully turn the salmon over and cook on the skin side for 1 minute.
Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon the glaze evenly over the salmon fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the center of the thickest part of the fillets are cooked and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer fillets to individual plates and serve with Asian fried rice.
Asian Fried Rice
4 servings. Makes a great leftover for lunch,
4 cups leftover cooked rice or uncooked cauliflower rice
2 bacon slices, cooked and diced
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons Asian chili oil or peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced banana pepper or other thin-skinned pepper
1 teaspoon Asian Fish Sauce
Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook, without stirring, until fully cooked on one side, about 30 seconds. Turn the omelet over and cook for 15 seconds. Transfer the omelet to a cutting board and cut into ½-inch pieces.
Add 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan along with scallions, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring until the scallions have softened, about 30 seconds. Add banana pepper and celery; cook, stirring, until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer everything to a large bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan; add the rice and stir-fry 2 minutes.
Return the vegetable mixture, bacon and eggs to the pan; add soy sauce, fish sauce and remaining sesame oil and stir until well combined. Serve with the salmon.
Ribeye Pork Chops
2 bone-in ribeye pork chops, 2 inches thick weighing about 16 oz each
Your Favorite Rub For Pork
Your Favorite BBQ Sauce
Here is a link to my favorite pork rub and BBQ Sauce:
Coat the pork all over with the rub mixture. Place the pork in an oiled baking dish and cover the dish with foil.
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the foil-covered baking dish in the oven and roast the pork for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone. The pork will finish cooking on the grill.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high. Oil the grill rack.
Brush the pork with BBQ sauce and place them on the grill. Grill the pork, turning occasionally, until the chops begin to char, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Crispy Baked Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash peeled and cut into spirals
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the butternut squash in a ziplock bag with the oil. Shake the bag.
Arrange the squash on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until caramelized and charred in spots.
Turn the spirals over after 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Twice Baked Cauliflower
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into large florets
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 green onions, diced
8 strips bacon, diced
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Put the cauliflower florets in a large ziplock bag and add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shake the bag and turn the florets out onto a baking sheet.
Roast until the florets are soft and begin to brown, about 30 minutes.
Cook the bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Place the roasted cauliflower florets in the processor with the garlic and green onions. Process until almost smooth. Add the cream cheese and sour cream and process until smooth.
Pour the cauliflower puree into an oiled medium=sized baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cooked bacon and cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes.
I recently discovered black soybeans. What are they, you ask?
Black soybeans are very similar to regular yellow soybeans—free of fat and a good source of protein. They are low in net carbohydrates (the number of carbohydrates per serving minus the grams of fiber) and high in protein, fiber, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin. Half a cup of cooked black soybeans has 1 gram net carb plus 7 grams of fiber (8 grams of total carbohydrate), 11 grams of protein, and 120 calories.
The black variety is higher in some phytonutrients, including antioxidants. The only distinction between white and black soybeans is the color of the hull so any nutritional difference will be found in the black outer shell. Similar to blueberries and raspberries, the dark exterior of the black soybean contains the antioxidants.
You can buy them canned in most supermarkets but I prefer the taste of home cooked.
Black soybeans are great substitutes for higher-carb beans, such as black, navy, and pinto beans. They don’t taste soybean-like as the yellow ones do, but rather more like regular black beans. You can substitute them in dishes that call for black beans, such as baked beans, refried beans, bean soup, chili, and 4-Bean Salad.
I learned the secret of how to cook these beans successfully from the Very Well Fit Dieticians’ blog.
Because of their delicate skin and silken texture, black soybeans need to be cooked a bit differently than regular beans. To avoid their getting mushy, it is best to soak the dried black soybeans overnight in salted water. You will use the same water measurements called for in recipes using regular beans, but be sure to add the salt. For one cup of dry black soybeans, soak in 4 cups of water with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt added.
When it’s time to cook the beans, use the same measurements you would normally, except salt the water. So if, for instance, you are using 1 cup of beans (which have been soaked overnight in salt water), add them to a pot with 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the beans to a boil uncovered, reduce the heat to a simmer and skim off the whitish-gray foam on top. Add a clove of garlic and half a small onion, cover and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until tender, adding more water if necessary.
Use these cooked beans in a variety of dishes. I tried them in my baked bean recipe and it turned out quite delicious.
3 slices bacon
1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, diced
4 cups cooked black soybeans
1 cup low sugar barbecue sauce, see recipe below for homemade
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced plus 1 teaspoon sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a Dutch oven or oven-ready, flame-proof casserole dish cook the bacon over medium heat until it just begins to crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper-lined plate.
Turn the heat to low and add the onion and garlic to the pot. Continue cooking until the onion softens.
Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cut each piece of cooked bacon in half and place on top of the beans.
With a lid on, place the bean mixture in the oven. Cook for about 3-4 hours or the until beans are completely tender and the sauce has thickened.
Adjust the seasoning to your taste. They can be served immediately but are better if left to sit for the next day.
Makes 8-10 servings.
26 oz container strained or crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thick about 1 ½ hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Ripe avocados are typically a dark, almost black color with hints of green when they’re ripe. If you want to use the avocado as soon as you get home, choose one that is dark. If you plan to use one in a couple of days, select one that’s more green. If an avocado looks ripe, you should still feel it to test its ripeness. Hold it in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t feel overly soft or mushy. Store whole, ripe avocados in the refrigerator.
You can vary this sandwich by replacing the tomatoes with smoked salmon or adding bacon or a sausage patty.
For each serving:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice sourdough, whole wheat, or pumpernickel bread, toasted
Half an avocado pitted and skin removed
4 thin slices of a plum tomato
1 slice American cheese
Heat the butter in a small skillet. Add the egg and cook over easy or the way you like to cook eggs.
Place a slice of toast on a small foil-lined pan.
Mash the avocado and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed avocado over the slice of toast. Place the tomato slices over the avocado. Top with the cooked egg.
Place the cheese on top of the egg and place the sandwich under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt. Remove and serve immediately.
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1 cup chicken salad, recipe below
Chopped chives or chopped cooked bacon for garnish
Loosen the avocado flesh with a spoon by running the spoon around the shell. Do not remove the avocado from the shell.
Place a ½ cup of chicken salad on one avocado half. Garnish with chives or bacon. Repeat with the second half of avocado. Place on a lettuce leaf, if desired.
For the cooking the chicken
2 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 small onion, halved,
1 clove garlic, cut in half
The tops of the celery stalk that will be used in the salad
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water
Ingredients for making the salad
4 scallions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced tops used for cooking the chicken
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Place 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and remaining ingredients for cooking the chicken.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook the chicken about 15-20 minutes or until they are white through the center.
Drain the chicken over a bowl and save the broth for another recipe. Cool the chicken breasts. Discard the cooking vegetables. Dice the chicken.
Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and chill covered in the refrigerator for several hours.
2 grilled chicken breasts or 2 cups chicken salad (recipe above)
4 slices bacon
Lettuce, chopped (4 cups)
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and sliced or cherry tomatoes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)
4 hard-boiled eggs
Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in 4 large eggs into the water. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes.
Drain off the hot water and add ice cubes and cold water to the pot.
Once the eggs are cool to the touch, peel them and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
Slice the hard-boiled eggs. Cut the avocado into slices.
Arrange the lettuce on two individual salad plates.
Place the chicken salad (or sliced chicken) on one area of the lettuce, the tomatoes on another followed by the eggs and avocado as you go around the plate.
Place the blue cheese in the center of the plate. Break the bacon into large pieces and place on the salad plates.
Sprinkle with chives and serve with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.
Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 dash salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and Worcestershire until smooth. Stir in chives, blue cheese crumbles, salt, and pepper.
Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Fresh asparagus stalks are firm, straight and smooth. They should be a rich green color with a small amount of white at the bottom of the spear. A dull green hue and wrinkles in the stems are an indication of old age. Also look for asparagus that stand up straight–the stalks should not be limp. The asparagus tips should be tightly closed and compact. If possible, buy asparagus that are standing in a shallow bin filled with a small amount of water which keeps the base of the stem from getting dry. There are endless ways to prepare asparagus and here is one of mine.
Asparagus and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halve, about 6 oz each
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 slices prosciutto
10 very thin asparagus spears, trimmed – divided
4 large, thin slices provolone cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with a cover (or you may use foil) or use individual baking dishes.
Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet until very thin. Brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place two slices of cheese on top of the chicken. Place a prosciutto slice on top of the cheese. Place 5 spears asparagus down the center of the chicken. Repeat with the other chicken breast and roll the chicken around the asparagus to make two compact rolls. Place the rolls seam side down in the prepared baking dish and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cover the dish and return the baking dish to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F. Sprinkle the chicken rolls with fresh chopped herbs before serving.
Sautéed Beet Greens
See Monday’s recipe for Marinated Beets. The beet greens from that recipe are used here.
2 bunches beet greens, stems removed and leaves cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
Optional garnishes crumbled bacon or feta cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the greens and cook until tender. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and top with optional garnishes, if desired.
Select beets that are heavy for their size and show no surface nicks or cuts. If they’re sold with their tops on, the greens are always a good indicator of freshness as they show wilting very quickly. So, buy beets that have very crisp leaves attached. Save the leaves and cook them for a side dish, as I did in the Stuffed Chicken Rolls for later in the week. I will post that recipe on Friday.
Marinated Roasted Beet Salad
Two bunches (6) medium-sized beets
Freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, sliced
¼ cup sliced red onions
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Wash and trim the beets so the stems and roots are about ½-inch long.
Place the beets onto a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil on a baking sheet, sprinkle the beets with salt and pepper, add the garlic slices and drizzle with a little olive oil. Close the package tightly and place in the oven for about an hour or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.
Cool the beets before peeling.
Cut the beets into thick slices and place in a serving bowl.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
Marinate the beets for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, before adding a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Pan Seared Fish Fillets with Tomato Bacon Sauce
4 (12 ounces) thin fish fillets
1 large Florida tomato, diced
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine, plus extra for garnish
1 garlic clove, grated
1 small shallot, finely minced
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Lightly season the fillets with salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.
Preheat a skillet just large enough to fit the fillets over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and carefully place the seasoned fillets skin side up in the sauté pan. Cook each fillet for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and completely cooked throughout the thickest part of the fillet. Remove the cooked fillets from the pan and place on a plate.
Add the tomatoes, shallot, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the tomato mixture until the tomatoes start to wilt and release their juices. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and vegetable stock. Quickly bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Return the fish to the skillet just to warm the fillets. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Sautéed Baby Zucchini
Scallions (green onions) are also in season in the spring. Look for crisp, bright-green stalks and a firm white base. Avoid stalks with any slimy, wet tops.
Young zucchini are in season where I live. If they are not available in your area, substitute another vegetable, such as green beans.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 young zucchini
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut each in half crosswise to make 8 pieces.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and place the zucchini cut side down in the pan. Sprinkle the garlic and scallions over the zucchini. Let cook for 7- 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle with oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat and serve.