Torta di Pomodoro

58 Comments

During the summer, I was showing a friend the four tomato pies I have on my blog, after discussing tomatoes growing profusely in her garden. Lucky her! I shared my recipe for Mimi’s Tomato Pie, and my Rustic Tomato Galette, and Chef JP’s Tomato Pie. I guess I love tomato pies!

But the fourth blog post, for torta di pomodoro, was missing. I’ve deleted many posts from the “early years” because of bad photography, but typically I’ll save the text. Interestingly enough, I found the photos only. So here I am again making this fabulous pie. It’s a great problem to have!

I discovered this recipe in a wonderful cookbook called The Best of Bugialli, by Giuliano Bugialli, published in 1994.

The tomato pie, shown on the cover, quickly became a family favorite. And instead of using garden-ripe tomatoes, it’s made with a rich sauce from canned tomatoes, so it can be made year round.

Chef Bugialli has been a favorite Italian cookbook author of mine for a long time. He’s quite passionate about regional Italian cooking, and will scold Americans for indiscriminately putting cheese on pasta! (Guilty.)

Torta di Pomodoro

For the crust:
8 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cold sweet butter
5 tablespoons cold water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

For the filling:
1 medium-sized celery stalk
1 carrot, scraped
1 medium-sized red onion, cleaned
1 small clove garlic, peeled
10 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
5 large fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 pounds drained canned tomatoes, preferably imported Italian (of course!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sweet butter
3 extra large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano
Fresh basil leaves to serve

Sift the flour onto a board and arrange it in a mount. Cut the butter into pieces and place over the mound. Use a metal dough scraper to incorporate the butter into the flour, adding the water 1 tablespoon at a time and seasoning with the salt and nutmeg. When all the water is used up, a ball of dough should be formed. Place the ball in a dampened cotton dish towel and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

(I followed the crust recipe, but used a food processor. I remember watching a Julia Child show when Martha Stewart made a pie crust in a food processor for her, and Julia was hooked! So I feel justified in doing this.)

To make the filling, coarsely chop the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley and basil all together on a board. Place the canned tomatoes in a non-reactive casserole, then arrange all the prepared vegetables over the tomatoes.

Pour the olive oil on top. Cover the casserole, set it over medium heat and cook for about 1 hour, without stirring, shaking the casserole often to be sure the tomatoes do not stick to the bottom.

Pass the contents of the casserole through a food mill, using the disc with the smallest holes, into a second casserole. Add the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Place the casserole over medium heat and let the mixture reduce for 15 minutes more, or until a rather thick sauce forms. (Seriously, it can’t be watery.)

Transfer the sauce to a crockery or glass bowl and let cool completely.

Butter a 9 1/2” tart pan with a removable bottom.

Flour a pastry board. Unwrap the pastry and knead it for about 30 seconds on the board, then use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to a 14” disc. Roll up the disc on the rolling pin and unroll it over the buttered pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cut off the dough around the rim of the pan by moving the rolling pin over it.

Using a fork, make several punctures in the pastry to keep it from puffing up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the pastry, then put pie weights in the pan. Refrigerate the pastry for 1/2 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the tart pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and lift out the foil and weights. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the crust is golden, about 10 minutes.

Add the eggs and Parmigiano-reggiano to the cooled tomato sauce. Taste for salt and pepper and mix very well with a wooden spoon.

Remove the tart pan from the oven after the last 10 minutes, leaving the oven on. Let the crust cool for 15 minutes, then pour in the prepared filling.

Bake the tart 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for 15 minutes. In the past I’ve also let the pie sit in the turned-off oven for 10-15 minutes. The filling should not be jiggly.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the tart cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Slice the tart like a pie and serve it with the fresh basil leaves.

If I was serving this for company, it would be accompanied by a green salad.

But it was just for us!

by the way, this pie dough recipe is fantastic, and made a seriously flaky crust, although it shrunk, and I’d let it rest.

58 thoughts on “Torta di Pomodoro

    • Interesting. I’m no baker but I know to rest the dough, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one shrink like that! Great tip!

  1. Mimi, I am in LOVE with this recipe!!! The tomato filling looks unbelievable! I’ve never made anything like this. A tomato pie is just what I need and I’m already planning which night to test this out! Thank you! :) Carrie

    • Oh good! You’ll love it! When my younger daughter was in college she’d often ask for it just cause it was a favorite of hers. After she moved away (to London!) I visited her more than she came here, and I kinda forgot about it. It’s just luscious!

  2. Looks wonderful! I’ve never tried a tomato pie quite like this one, but you can always count on Bugialli, I find.

    But your’re right, he did tend to be something of a scold. Even, apparently, from beyond the grave. I recently received some “hate mail” not from Bugialli of course (who passed in 2019) but someone purporting to be a friend/acolyte. They were excoriating me for my post on one of Bugialli’s recipes where I had the gall to make the egg pasta in a standing mixer instead of a rolling pin… Bugialli wouldn’t have wanted his name associated with this disgrace, apparently… I was duly disciplined for my heresy. But I didn’t take the post down.

    • WOW! That is hysterical!!! The Bugialli police! Glad you didn’t remove the post. He was definitely intense, but I loved his passion. I may have even mentioned this in this specific post, but I watched Martha Stewart show Julia Child how she made pie dough in a food processor, and J C did that from that point on. I guess she was a bit more open to culinary technology! It was one of those shows from J C’s kitchen in Santa Barbara when she was pretty old. I know Stefan from Stefan Gourmet proved that pesto is better made with a mortar and pestle. Well, I make giant batches of it, so there’s no way I’m going to be grinding away for days! Anyway, I’m off track. I can’t wait to read your comment to my husband!

  3. Wow, I’m going to have to try this, Mimi. I’ve never a pie (or any dish) quite like it. My dad used to grow the most amazing tomatoes every summer, and now my brother does, in the same garden. So happy you had to re post this recipe. I have a couple of Bugialli’s books and reference them often. :-) ~Valentina

  4. That looks super delicious. I can imagine eating this tart all day long for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a late night snack. I would love to see a photo of all your cook books on a shelf. That is something I really enjoy but with all the moves do not get often. However, love leafing through great cookbooks. Hope you are having a super weekend.

    • My cookbooks are on many many many shelves, and wouldn’t fit in one photo. I just added 7 at Christmas. Better vice than most! This is a fabulous tart.

  5. This looks so different to every other tomato tart. Although I grow my own tomatoes this looks fab for making all year round; frugal, tasty and perfect!

    • Oh you must! they’re all special but if I was forced to pick it would be one with garden ripe tomatoes cause they’re just so luscious!

  6. Mimi, you are the queen of great cookbooks. I love how you highlight them in your posts. Also, this “tomato pie” looks and sounds so unique. I have to say, I’ve never made one but you have piqued my interest now. All the ingredients added to the tomatoes sounds fabulous for a full flavored dish. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. I was just watching one of Julia Child’s episodes from her 1963 ‘The French Chef’ show- where she made the dough for Quiche Lorraine using the traditional method of rubbing the butter and flour together between the palms of her hands. Can’t believe she adopted the ‘new method’ using a food processor! I like Tomato Pie, and would be tempted to add a little cheese on top! Great that you could find the photos from your old post. I should go back and erase some of my old posts, but each post required so much hard work, I would find it hard to do!

    • She was obviously open to the use of electric appliances! There is cheese inside the pie. You could always add more… I’m not sure cheese on top would allow for such a pretty red as it is. Blogging is a lot of work, indeed!

  8. Wow! I’ve made pies with fresh, sliced tomatoes before, but nothing quite like this. It’s a real show-stopper, and such a wonderful way to get a taste of summer in these cold winter months.

  9. I had The Best of Bugialli but sold it and hundreds of other of my cookbooks when we made our move from New England to Florida. That is the problem when you downsize, you have to leave many of your treasures behind. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe again. I’ll be making it soon as I never tried it when I had he cookbook. 😊

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