As I contemplate ripping out all but one of my tomato plants (and yes, it pains me greatly, which is why I haven’t pulled the trigger yet), I’m also reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned in my first summer growing season in Texas. I read in my Neil Sperry’s that most people assume Texas has one really long growing season, due to the warm weather here, but, as it turns out, we really have two growing seasons, punctuated by a period of a few weeks in late summer when it’s just too darn hot to grow much of anything. Yep, that’s where we are right now.
My peppers are happy, and the basil is going insane, but the tomato plants (other than the Sun Golds, which are doing great, and the plants in the other Earth Box, which got attacked by mites and leaf-footed bugs) are big and bushy, but not producing any more tomatoes. All the blossoms are dropping because it’s just not getting cool enough at night for fruit to form.
Next year, I’ll plant earlier, fertilize at planting (beyond just mixing compost into the soil), and be diligent about watering deeply right from the start. I’ll also be choosier about my varietals, since the Sun Golds are still going like gangbusters, but everything else has crapped out. I hear Romas do well in hot regions, so I may have a plant a few of those, especially since they’re great for saucing. I’ll still try with the other heirloom varieties, but hope and prepare for an earlier harvest and call it a day once July is in full swing.
But, for all my talk about how tomato season is coming to an end here, I did manage to score some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes the other day. I went back and forth on what to do with them, since this may be my last shot this summer (*sniff*), and I landed on making a simple tomato pie.
Agrigirl’s blog inspired me: it seemed easy and delicious, plus I had a pie crust in the freezer,* so why not?
* Yes, I am one of those people with pie crust issues. Just because I can make a successful pie crust (sometimes) doesn’t mean I usually do.
It was a rich, delicious use of these beautiful tomatoes. Plus, I got an excuse to go out to our herb garden and pick a beautiful bouquet, which always makes me feel good about myself as a gardener.
Don’t judge us, but Pat and I polished off the entire pie between us at dinner! It was just that good.
Adapted from Agrigirl’s recipe
One unbaked pie crust
1 tsp Dijon or whole grain mustard
2-3 large ripe tomatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, thyme, and parsley
6 oz goat cheese, crumbled or sliced into rounds
Good-quality balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425°. If you’re using a frozen pie crust, line it with foil, distribute pie weights or pennies in the bottom, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights. If you are making fresh dough, simply press it into and up the sides of a pie plate or tart pan without pre-baking it.
Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with the mustard and let it sit for a few minutes. Slice the tomatoes thickly and lay them out in the bottom of the crust. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped herbs, reserving a small amount to finish the dish. Distribute the goat cheese evenly in the pan and finish with the reserved herbs. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese is nicely browned. Let the pie cool on a rack for a few minutes before serving.