Hear me out. I AM a Vidalia Onion Person. I always have been. And I can remember my dad talking about them and using them for his recipes, especially his homemade burgers. I loved how sweet they were to the taste, and how when my dad chopped them, it didn’t make me cry or make my eyes sting. I knew they were something special, and something different, and I vowed to find ways to use them to the best of my abilities. That’s how I came to make Tomato & Vidalia Onion Pie.
We had a neighborhood potluck years ago and one of the neighbors I didn’t know brought a fresh, unbaked tomato pie to put in our oven. I remember how the kitchen changed as the pie cooked. It smelled like late summer! It was a wonderful party and I thought the only thing missing in her pie was Vidalia onions. She had used leeks or scallions and it didn’t have the same effect. It needed a new sweet crunch. So I made it myself for another occasion. And I couldn’t believe how good it was! It went well with what I brought – a warmed loaf from our favorite bread delivery service!
The best tomato pie recipe will have a sweetness and a crunch, although it’s a savory dish. Summer tomatoes are juicy and sweet, although my recipe involves drying them as much as possible so they don’t overpower the pie. Luckily, Vidalia onions hold their own. They are planted by hand and each winter, growers plant over 80,000 Vidalia onion seedlings per acre!
- 1 pie crust - from scratch or store-bought
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced thin
- 1 large Vidalia Onion, sliced thin
- 1-2 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1 cup grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- 2. Slice tomatoes and lay them on a cutting board with paper towel
- 3. Sprinkle them with salt, cover them with more paper towel, and allow them to dry for 15 minutes
- 4. Combine the mayonnaise and two cheeses in a bowl and set aside
- 5. Layer your tomato and Vidalia Onion slices in the pie crust, alternating layers
- 6. Sprinkle the mix with pepper and drizzle olive oil over the vegetables
- 7. Sprinkle on chopped basil and then spread cheese/mayo mix on top
- 8. Add extra basil on top
- 9. Bake pie for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown
- 10. Enjoy!
If you are using a pre-made pie shell, you can follow instructions for pre-baking on the packaging. If they don’t say it, pre-bake it for about 9-10 minutes until it’s lightly browned before filling with the fixings here. If you prefer to use a homemade crust, you freeze it first and then press aluminum foil into the crust to keep the sides from falling down. Fill it with pie weights, like dry beans or rice. You can pre-bake it for 15 minutes, remove the foil, use a fork to make small holes in the bottom for venting, and then bake for ten more minutes. A reader wrote that you can also pre-bake the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes (in a regular oven in a pan with edges) at 350 degrees. And you can also cook the onions in a bit of olive oil to soften them up.
Another reader wrote to par-bake the crust but also “par-bake” the tomatoes. Slice them and bake them in the counter-top oven or regular oven on a pan with edges. Bake for 15-20 min. at 350 degrees or so. This does not have to be exact – just watch them and when they look a bit “dried” you can take them out. They won’t be in neat slices as it softens them a good bit, but they won’t make your crust soggy. You can also cook the onions in a bit of olive oil to soften them up and then layer them.
Looks awesome, right? The Vidalia onion originated in 1930 and 100 registered South Georgia growers produce the crop each year! That means these seasonal treats have been cultivated for more than 80 years by grower artisans. It’s the world’s first sweet onion! I think the world was ready for it because the distinctive taste is derived from the weather, water and soil uniquely found within 20 South Georgia counties. That’s somewhat crazy. They couldn’t grow up here with our weather!
That’s because they get their sweet flavor through a combination of mild winters, low sulfur soil, and a seed variety that has gone through rigorous testing. It definitely makes you appreciate each bite of a Vidalia onion. So hard earned and unique.
These sweet onions are revered by some of the world’s best chefs and home cooks. It’s all about that sweet, distinctive flavor. And they have limited availability so you have to get them while you can! Vidalia onions are hand planted, harvested, and cured each season, and the sweet and juicy bulbs are only available between April and August. So that’s NOW!
You can use Vidalia onions on salads, sides, dressings, dips, and even with desserts! Purchase them in your local grocery store after April 20th! (now) And visit vidaliaonion.org to find out much more about these amazing, seasonal gems.