Robin Anish | The Table is Set: A love letter, of sorts, to tomatoes


I don't like tomatoes but I so want to. At this time of year, I envy those who do. Frequenting farmers markets and road side stands, I marvel at the freshly harvested globes of goodness. I adore the shapes and sizes, from that of a tiny currant tomato to the hefty beefsteaks and oxheart. The stunning colors in brilliant yellows, oranges, shades of red that range from pink to a red — so dark they are almost black — resemble an artist's pallet. There are even glossy white tomatoes and green tomatoes — not unripened green tomatoes, but tomatoes that are green when ripe!

The delicious aroma that only comes from a garden-fresh tomato is heavenly and the fragrance a tomato plant gives off when I brush my hand across the leaves makes me grateful for summer.

To see a meaty slice of home-grown tomato smeared with mayo on white bread seasoned with a sprinkling of salt and pepper makes my mouth water. People anxiously wait all year for that first bite of a tomato sandwich. Why can't I be one of them? I so want to like tomatoes, but I just can't bite into one without cringing. I think it's a texture thing.

A gardener's pride and joy is the first ripened tomato of the season and that, I can appreciate. I grow lots of tomatoes, all sizes, shapes and colors. Why? I don't like raw tomatoes, but I do like them cooked, especially roasted with garlic, basil and olive oil or in my homemade green tomato mincemeat that I freeze for pie at Thanksgiving. I also love tomatoes in this terrific tomato and basil pie, which should only be made with tomatoes ripe from the garden.

Tomato and Basil Pie


9" pie crust

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

About 6 Roma or 4 larger tomato varieties

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

4 cloves garlic

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

black pepper

panko crumbs

extra virgin olive oil


Partially bake the pie shell at 425 degrees until the crust just begins to brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella.

Cut the tomatoes into wedges; drain on paper towels and arrange in a circular pattern in the pie shell. Coarsely chop the garlic and basil by hand or in a food processor and sprinkle over tomatoes. Combine mayonnaise, remaining mozzarella, parmesan, pepper to taste and spread the mixture over the top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle a handful of panko crumbs over the pie and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Cool a bit before serving.


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