For the first time since we moved into our current house, I have a garden. I’ve wanted one for years, but the tree cover was always too thick so the dappled sunlight that managed to peek through the leaves wasn’t enough to nourish anything other than weeds.
Then there was the chickens. While they were with us (a moment of silence for their loss, please) the yard stayed mowed. Any plant that dared to show its head above ground was a meal. The thought of planting a garden never even crossed my mind.
So, here I was this spring. The chickens are gone and a tree guy used his climbing equipment and chainsaw to take a bunch of overhanging mammoth branches off the old oak trees that surround the house. A garden was possible. Maybe.
I planted cucumbers, eggplant, green peppers, zucchini and tomatoes. I watered them, fertilized them, talked to them and named them George. And they grew. Leaves unfurled and pointed towards the sun. Little yellow and purple flowers opened and winked through the foliage. I was happy.
Apparently, so were the slugs. The slimy critters must have banded together to seek vengeance for the havoc the chickens wreaked on their numbers over the years, because they were out in force. They decimated my garden. The day after a flower bloomed, it was gone. Of course, that was probably the cute chipmunk’s fault, but I’d rather blame the slugs.
I’ve had no cucumbers, eggplants, green peppers, zucchini or tomatoes from my own garden this summer. The beauties you see here are thanks to a nearby farm stand.
The slugs may have the last laugh, but I’m still reveling in summer tomatoes, dogonnit.
As with the Cinnamon-Walnut-Raisin Pinwheels, the dough for this pie is the buttermilk biscuit dough on page 62 of Fine Cooking.
In this recipe, though, I rolled it into a round instead of a square. I laid out slices of tomato on the crust, salted them, dolloped spoonfuls of a mixture of Gruyere, mayonnaise and herbs on them, folded the crust up over them, and then baked the whole thing for 22 minutes.
Oh heavens, this was delicious. I don’t remember the last time I was actually happy that Hubby and Dudette don’t like cooked tomatoes. Their dislike makes the pie mine, all mine. I used basil, parsley, and oregano as my herbs and the combination with the tomatoes was wonderful. After two pieces, I forced myself to wrap the rest up for later.
Now I’m thinking that a piece (or two) of pie would make an awesome breakfast.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d leave the sugar out of the dough. Summer tomatoes are sweet enough without any help and in a savory dish like this, it’s just not necessary.
- ¼ cup semolina flour
- 1 recipe Buttermilk Biscuit Dough
- All-purpose flour, for rolling
- 3 to 4 medium ripe tomatoes (1-1/2 lb. total), preferably heirloom, cored and sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 2 oz. coarsely grated Gruyère (about ⅔ cup using the large holes of a box grater)
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, and chives
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.
- Sprinkle a 12x17-inch sheet of parchment with 2 Tbs. of the semolina flour. On the semolina, pat the biscuit dough into a 5-inch round. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 13-inch round, lightly dusting with all-purpose flour to keep the dough from sticking, if necessary.
- Transfer the dough on the parchment to a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbs. semolina flour over the dough, leaving a 1-1/2-inch border.
- Arrange the tomatoes over the dough in two flat, slightly overlapping concentric circles, lightly salting each circle as you go.
- Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, herbs, and ⅛ tsp. pepper in a small bowl. Dollop in generous tablespoons over the tomatoes. Fold the dough border over the edges of the tomatoes, pleating the dough as necessary.
- Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the tomatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until warm, about 30 minutes, before cutting into wedges and serving. You can also serve it at room temperature.
I will be trying my garden again next year, but I’ll also be putting out bowls of beer for my slimy visitors. If I’m going to do away with them, they might as well go out happy.