When I was growing up in Indiana, my family usually had Tomato Pie a few times during the summer, a savory dish with tomato, cheese, basil and mayo baked in a crust. Over the years, I've tried several variations on my mom's recipe until I came up with the concept of making individual tomato "pie-lets" instead of one big pie, which tended to be messy to serve.
Also, while the original recipe uses fresh tomatoes that are peeled, seeded and diced, my sister had the idea to use canned tomatoes. This saves time and has more flavor than store-bought tomatoes. I recommend using fresh tomatoes only if you grow them yourself or get them from a friend or farmers' market.
- 1 package (17.3 oz) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed, but chilled
- 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
- 8 oz medium or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 cup real mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- paprika for garnish
Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly spray a large muffin tin (one that has 6 large cups) with non-stick cooking spray.
Empty the cans of tomatoes into a strainer set in the sink and allow them to drain of liquid.
Take the thawed pastry sheets (there should be two in the package) and unfold, cut into thirds along fold lines, then cut each remaining piece in half across the middle to form a near-square. You'll end up with 12 pieces of pastry dough. Roll one piece of dough into a square. (Note that the dough is elastic, so you'll need to roll it more than expected, then it will spring back into a square shape.) Take that square of pastry dough and lay flat on top of an open muffin cup. Take a second piece, roll it, rotate it and lay it on top of the first piece such that the corners form an 8-point star pattern. Push the pastry evenly into the muffin cup so that the "points" of the dough remain outside the cup around the edge. Repeat for the remaining five muffin cups.
Bake the pastry cups for 8 minutes until puffed and lightly brown. Remove and let rest for a few minutes. Turn the oven down to 350° F.
Take a small shot glass and gently press it into each muffin cup, moving it in a circular motion around the sides of the muffin cup to press the dough back into the shape of the muffin cup. (It doesn't need to be perfect, just open them back up a little to make room for the filling.)
While the pastry cups are cooling, prepare the filling. Put the grated cheese and mayonnaise into a large bowl. Next, add the tomatoes, then lightly season with salt and pepper. (Be careful not to add too much salt because the cheese adds salt as well. Also, I use white pepper instead of black pepper, but either is fine.) Finally, add the basil, parsley and dried herbs. Mix well by hand using a large spoon or spatula, gently folding the ingredients so as not to crush the tomatoes.
Spoon the filling evenly into the pastry cups (which should still be in the muffin tin). As you're adding the filling, gently press down with the spoon or spatula to ensure an even, complete fill. Also, it's ok to have the filling go past the top of the pastry, but try to keep it from overflowing the muffin cup. Garnish each pie-let with thinly-sliced tomato or half a cherry tomato (cut side up) and lightly sprinkle with paprika, if desired.
Bake the pie-lets at 350° F for 25 to 30 minutes, until filling is bubbling and top has slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to rest (in the muffin tin) for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a flexible rubber/silicone spatula to remove each of the pie-lets from the muffin tin. Serve warm.