Wade on Birmingham

Birmingham’s Best Eats: Pie crazy – tomato tart, blueberry pie


By Elisa Muñoz

Pie! Is there anything more Southern and summery?

Birmingham's Best EatsAdd some in-season produce, a couple of friends and a delicious cocktail, and you have a summer evening to remember.

This summer, I have been pie crazy, so I decided to have eight friends over for a “pie night.” I used tomatoes and basil from my garden as well as Jones Valley Urban Farm for a tomato tart. I also made a delightful blueberry pie with berries from Jones Valley.

As we talked and ate, our bellies were filled, and our souls were enriched, a beautiful night, indeed. As Ned, the protagonist from the TV show “Pushing Daisies,” said, “Pie is coming home; people always come home.”

Yes they do, Ned.

• • •

tomato tart

This tomato tart features a homemade crust.
Photos by Elisa Muñoz.

Tomato Tart

(adapted from Epicurious)

  • Preparation time: 35 min.
  • Cooking time: 25 min.
  • Servings: 4


For black pepper Parmesan pastry:

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

For filling:

  • 3/4 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup pesto (I made fresh pesto with homegrown basil!)
  • 2 lbs. mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced 3/4 inch thick


  • pie weights or uncooked rice/beans

Pastry: Blend together flour, butter, shortening, Parmesan, pepper and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water over and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in food processor) until incorporated.

Gently squeeze a small handful. If it doesn’t hold together without falling apart, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) after each addition until incorporated, continuing to test. (Do not overwork dough, or it will become tough.)

Turn out dough onto a work surface, and divide into two portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather both portions of dough into one ball, then pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable rim. Roll rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Lightly prick tart shell all over with a fork.

Fill shell with pie weights or uncooked rice/beans. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Filling: Remove side of pan and slide shell onto a platter. Arrange a third of mozzarella in bottom of shell and drizzle with a third of pesto. Arrange a third of tomato slices, overlapping, on top of cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering twice.

Bake additional 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, let cool, and serve.

• • •

blueberry pie

Blueberry pie made with fresh berries
can cap a perfect summer evening.

Blueberry Pie

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • Preparation time: 90 min. (30 min. active time)
  • Cooking time: 40-50 min.
  • Servings: 8


  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 ready-made refrigerated pie crusts
  • 8 cups (about 4 pints) blueberries, picked over
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream or heavy cream

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into edges.

Trim dough to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under, and crimp as desired. Roll out remaining dough in the same manner; transfer dough (on parchment) to a baking sheet. Chill pie shell and dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Place blueberries in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice; stir to combine. Spoon mixture into chilled pie shell, mounding berries slightly in the center. Dot with butter.

Remove dough from refrigerator, and place over blueberry filling. Tuck edge of top dough between edge of bottom dough and rim of pan. Using your fingers, gently press both layers of dough along the edge to seal, and crimp using a fork or fingers.

Use a paring knife to cut several steam vents in top of dough. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream. Brush surface with egg wash; don’t let it pool up. Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake pie until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. (You can cover the edges in foil to prevent them from overbaking.) Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and have thickened, 40 to 50 minutes more.


Elisa MuñozElisa Muñoz is an avid cyclist and a food activist. In addition to founding and helping run the Bici Bicycle Cooperative, she is the program coordinator for Greater Birmingham Community Food Partners. Her thoughts on cycling and life in Birmingham can be found on Bike Skirt (@bikeskirt), a blog she co-writes.

• • •

Hungry for more? Check out the menu of Birmingham’s Best Eats!

4 Yips for “Birmingham’s Best Eats: Pie crazy – tomato tart, blueberry pie”

  1. Tweets that mention Wade on Birmingham » Birmingham’s Best Eats: Pie crazy – tomato tart, blueberry pie -- Topsy.com
    Thursday, August 5, 2010, 4:06 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by elisa , Shaun Chavis. Shaun Chavis said: My, oh my. Pie! By @bikeskirt: http://itswa.de/bbe-pie I've been thinking tomato tart or pie for the weekend. #bhameats […]

  2. Dan
    Thursday, August 5, 2010, 2:21 pm

    Those pies look delicious and the doughs don’t sound too fussy! Excellent.

  3. Wade
    Friday, August 6, 2010, 9:33 pm

    I like the look of that black pepper Parmesan pastry — can’t wait to try it.

  4. Wade on Birmingham » Birmingham’s Best Eats: In search of the perfect summer tomato
    Sunday, August 22, 2010, 12:07 am

    […] if (hours>12){ hours=hours-12 } if (hours==0) hours=12 if (minutes Sphere: Related Content Also see:Birmingham’s Best Eats: Pie crazy – tomato tart, blueberry pieMore in the 2008 Ultimate Summer Movie GuideBirmingham’s Best EatsBirmingham’s Best […]

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