Corn and tomatoes are plentiful in the farmer’s market right now. Huge, ripe red tomatoes and fresh, sweet corn are wonderful together. A match made in culinary heaven. Old St Augustine Datil Zest Spice Blend and Old St Augustine Jalapeño Onion Relish are the perfect compliments to both the tomatoes and corn, and this pie exemplifies the end of summer bounty.
Growing up in Florida, my Southern grandmother and mother always had freshly sliced tomatoes on the table at lunch and dinner. A large plate of ripe, beautiful, juicy tomatoes from the garden.
Finding tomatoes that actually taste like a tomato is difficult to do these days. The hydroponic ones in the grocery store don’t have much flavor, and tend to be mealy. I refuse to use them unless I desperately need a tomato for a recipe and there’s nothing else to be had.
One of our local vegetable markets here in St. Augustine had some of the prettiest tomatoes from Ripley, Tennessee. This particular market lets you sample most of their produce, and they already had one of the gorgeous tomatoes cut open. One bite and I could picture my Grandmother Vickers in the kitchen slicing up tomatoes in the summer. She would hold the tomato in one hand and the paring knife in the other. Seldom did she place the tomato on a cutting board or the counter to slice it. Juice would be running down her arms, but she never seemed to notice. It was beautiful to watch her lovingly cut slices, and then gently layer one piece on top of the other in a pretty cut glass dish that belonged to my great grandmother.
Ripe, beautiful Ripley, Tennessee Tomatoes
Summer tomatoes. Oh, the memories of childhood. We ate them like apples. We made sandwiches with two slices of bread, mayonnaise, and thick slices of tomato with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. We ate them stuffed with tuna salad. And we always, always, had sliced tomatoes on a plate on the table. Tomatoes were a part of every meal in the summer. They went with absolutely everything. Even with scrambled eggs or an omelette in the morning.
When she had an abundance of tomatoes, my grandmother would take them to the packing plant near her home and put them up in cans, or preserve them in jars for use in the Fall and Winter months when the garden was bare.
Fun Facts: La Tomatina, an annual festival in Buñol, Spain is the site of the world’s largest tomato fight. Approximately 40,000 people have fun throwing over 150,000 tomatoes at each other. Sounds like a food fight made in heaven, but what a waste of good tomatoes!
The scientific name for tomatoes is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which literally means “wolf peach.”
Just for grins, here’s the YouTube clip of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers singing “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” I adore old movies, especially musicals, and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are still mesmerizing to watch. The 1937 movie Shall We Dance, features Fred and Ginger, not just dancing, but dancing on roller skates while they sing “You say tomato and I say tomahto.” Any way you want to pronounce it, tomatoes are wonderful.
Tomatoes are a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They’re also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Tomatoes are usually red when mature, but can come in an array of colors, including yellow, orange, green, purple and even black. They are the perfect diet food. One medium sized tomato (100 grams) contains only about 18 calories, and no cholesterol. They’re a good source of fiber, providing about 1.5 grams per medium sized tomato.
Fresh corn kernels
Sorry, I seem to have gone on and on about the tomato. Maybe because it is one of my absolute favorite foods. And they always remind me of my grandmother. I really miss her.
Now for a word about corn. If you can get ears of fresh corn, it only takes a few minutes to run a knife down the sides to cut off the kernels. You might want to do it over a shallow bowl or pie plate, however, because if the corn is really fresh, you’ll produce a lot of liquid when you cut the corn from the cob. Let it drain a few minutes in a colander to remove most of the moisture, and blot dry with paper towels before placing into the pie with your tomatoes. * If there is too much liquid from the tomatoes and corn, the pie will turn out mushy. Definitely not the result we’re after here. If corn isn’t in season, you can substitute a good quality canned corn, well drained and blotted dry.
Fun Facts: Individual kernels of corn are seeds, and the cob is part of the flower of the corn plant. Typically an ear of corn has 800 kernels in 16 rows. Corn will always have an even number of rows on each cob.
Corn is composed primarily of carbohydrate, which is a concern to diabetics. However, it’s not high on the glycemic index, and shouldn’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar. It’s high in fiber, about 3 grams per 1/2 cup, and has a high insoluble to soluble fiber content, which is beneficial to your digestive system. Fresh whole corn contains carotenoid antioxidants which help support the immune system and defend against oxidative stress. One half cup of yellow corn contains approximately 196 milligrams of potassium, and one half cup of white corn contains 208 milligrams. Including potassium in your diet can help improve your blood pressure. Please be sure to talk with your doctor, however, if you have kidney disease, as you may need to limit the amount of daily potassium you consume. Fresh corn has nutritional value, but you want to steer clear of genetically modified corn products. Unless you’re buying from a market you trust, or direct from the farmer in the field, buy organic corn to ensure that you don’t get any that is genetically modified.
I know I promised you a tomato and corn pie. So here’s the recipe. I used Old St Augustine Datil Zest Spice Blend to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and corn. It contains Fresh From Florida Orange, Lemon and Lime, along with other spices which brings your food to life.
I also used Old St Augustine Jalapeño Onion Relish in the filling. The sweet onions and hint of heat from the jalapeño add a new taste sensation to this veggie pie. Try this amazing onion relish in any vegetable dish instead of, or in addition to, fresh onions. The jalapeño is mild, but gives your food an added kick of heat.
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 3 ears of corn) *May substitute 1 can of whole kernel corn, well drained and patted dry.
2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped or cut into ribbons
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the pie crust into a deep dish pie plate. Fold edges over and crimp.
Line pie shell with foil and fill with pastry weights or dried beans.
Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F..
Remove from oven and cool about 30 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Slice tomatoes and place in single layer on paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt if desired. (This helps take some of the moisture out of the tomatoes, and in my opinion, is much preferable to seeding the tomatoes to get rid of the juice.)
Blot tomatoes dry with paper towels, and place single layer of overlapping tomatoes on the bottom of the pie crust.
Place 1/2 of the corn on top of tomatoes and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp basil leaves.
Repeat with another layer of tomatoes and corn and 1 Tbsp basil.
Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly on top.
Arrange one more layer of tomatoes on top of mayonnaise and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Top with additional 1/2 Tbsp basil leaves if desired, or you may reserve them for garnish just before serving..
Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees F.
Use foil to cover edges of pie crust to prevent over browning.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into slices.
This may be served warm or at room temperature.
Variation: Although my grandmother never did this, I have had tomato pie in Southern restaurants with cheddar cheese sprinkled throughout the layers and on top. If you do this, use about 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese, and place 1/3 cup on top of the first layer of tomatoes and corn, 1/3 cup on the second layer of tomatoes and corn, and the remainder on top of the pie just prior to baking.
Serve with a salad for a light vegetarian lunch, or as a side dish for any meal. My grandmother always served this with a huge glass pitcher of sweet ice tea. But then, she always had sweet tea made and ready to pour over tall glasses of ice. I wish she was here to share this pie with me. “Goodness gracious,” she would have said!