When I first moved to Austin, Kerbey Lane Cafe was my favorite place to eat. I tried nearly every vegetarian thing on the menu. Then I went vegan, limiting my options a bit. Vegan pancakes and the breakfast platter became my usual picks. I have always been intrigued by their seasonal menus, which unfortunately don’t usually have vegan options. The highlight of the summer menu is their Tomato Pie. I have never tried it but have always been intrigued.
So I decided to make tomato pie at home.
For starters, I used the all-knowing master of knowledge, Google, to see if any copycat recipes had been shared for Kerbey Lane Tomato Pie. Surprise! The KLC blog posted a recipe themselves. How about that?
I have made two versions of this pie since discovering the recipe online. The photos are from the first attempt, which I felt worked the best.
I’m not really good with pie crust… I made a traditional pie crust from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook with regular flour and vegetable shortening. It was quite flaky and pleasant but it didn’t roll very well at all and barely came to the edge of my pie plate. But it looks pretty darned good, eh?
Of course I was pleased to discover how incredibly tasty tomato pie is. In fact, I loved it. And it didn’t really take that long to make, either. I typically shy away from dishes that require a lot of prep, but this baby was absolutely worth it. We were having seconds by 7:30.
The only challenge I really had was interpreting the instructions provided by the KLC blog. I’m not sure they’re accurate… Maybe it’s more like user error. Who’s to say? The original recipe called for four tomatoes. It didn’t specify which kind. It didn’t indicate what size pie crust or pan to use, either. So, perhaps my pie plate was a bit too small for the original recipe, though I don’t know how you could have fit that many tomatoes in a deep dish sized pie plate, either! Anyway, I used their recipe to inspire mine and I hope my version inspires you!
2 ripe hothouse or beefsteak tomatoes, cut into thick slices
10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 20 minutes and liquid drained off
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1-2 tablespoons plain Vegenaise
Pre-made vegan 9-inch pie crust or your favorite recipe (see note)
Vegan Parmesan, optional
Kalamata olives and fresh basil, for garnish
Note, the second time I made this dish I tried my hand at a whole grain crust. I used 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/8 cup refined coconut oil, and 1/4 cup water. I mixed it in a food processor until crumbly, then added an additional 1/8 cup water until the dough became soft and stretchy. I rolled it out on a well-floured surface and then transferred to the pie plate. I poked the bottom with a fork a few times and then baked it at 400 degrees for 11 minutes, until it started to look golden. It was crisp on top and had an excellent flavor! Anyway, moving on.
Place your sliced tomatoes on a wire rack over the sink. Sprinkle them with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, then flip and repeat. You’re trying to drain out as much liquid from the tomatoes as possible! Don’t go too crazy with the salt, but sprinkle them evenly.
In a small bowl, combine the fresh basil and onions. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly squish the tofu with your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, Vegenaise, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well with a fork or a wooden spoon.
When the tomatoes have sat long enough, press them each between two paper towels to remove additional liquid. Press firmly but don’t mutilate them! Then dice the tomatoes into small pieces.
If your pie crust isn’t pre-baked, bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. It should be light brown.
To assemble the pie, layer half of the onion and basil mixture on the bottom. Then add the diced tomatoes. Top with the remaining onion and basil mixture. Pour the tofu mixture (effectively, the tofu cheese) over it. Push down with your fingers or a fork to ensure the tofu is pressed well into every nook and cranny. If you’re using a smaller pie dish, like I did, you may have a little extra. If able, use a deep dish pan. If not, that’s okay. If you want to use the extra tofu in something else, go ahead. Be creative!
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with a nice layer of vegan Parmesan cheese. I used a homemade recipe from the Non-Dairy Formulary. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until the Parmesan is nice and browned! If not using the Parmesan, bake for 45 minutes altogether.
Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with chopped olives and fresh basil. We ate ours with fresh green beans lightly sauteed in grapeseed oil and minced garlic!
Makes 4-6 servings. Depending on how much you love it. 😉
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By the way, did you know that Tuesday is also known as Tofu Tuesday?? I have been sharing tofu recipes with readers via social networks where tofu is the main ingredient. If you’d like to join in on Twitter, click here to tweet about this recipe. Also be sure to check out some of my other tofu-centric dishes, like my Tofu Shawarma and Veganized Paula Deen Collard Greens (with tofu bacon bits).