It's a Philly thing. I've seen Tomato Pie listed on pizzeria menus (and sitting on bakery shelves) since we moved to the Philadelphia area 22 years ago. But until this summer, I'd never tasted it.
Erin at Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, OP made sure I had a chance to try Tomato Pie at the Catholic Writers Guild Conference this summer, where she served slices of it along with previews of her upcoming novel, Don't You Forget About Me, which is a murder mystery that actually made me cry. Erin likes Tomato Pie so much that she named her blog after it--and it's a key element in that novel as well.
In my household, the divide between Pizza and Tomato Pie follows gender lines. Because I'm essentially lazy, but I wanted to have my Tomato Pie while the guys ate their pizza, I figured out how to make both--with just one recipe--in the oven at the same time, with a little help from Slice. I took their recipe and ran with it, modifying the crust for the bread machine and changing up the sauce a bit. It might not be exactly authentic, but then again, I've had the Real Thing exactly once.
TOMATO PIE (and PIZZA, too)
This recipe makes one 9-inch square tomato pie PLUS one 16-inch round thin-crust pizza.
For the crust:
11 ounces water
2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 TBL vital gluten
1 scant TBL active dry yeast
Place ingredients in the pan of your automatic bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Use the DOUGH cycle.
For the sauce:
2 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBL butter
4 garlic cloves, shredded on a microplane
1 TBL dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 small onion, peeled (leave the onion whole)
1 TBL sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
In a heavy saucepan (6-cup or larger), heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until butter melts. Add garlic, oregano, basil and red pepper and cook 2 minutes until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for at least an hour until the sauce cooks down.
Note: There will be leftover sauce. Freeze it for the next time, or use it to make french-bread pizza, English-muffin pizza or bagel pizza.
I started the sauce right after getting the bread machine set up. The longer the sauce cooks, the better it will taste.
When the bread machine is done, sprinkle your table with flour and dump the dough on the table. Knead a couple of times, then allow to rest 10 minutes.
Prepare a 16-inch round pizza pan and a 9-inch square cake pan by brushing with olive oil. Place one oven rack fairly close to the bottom and the other one about 2/3 of the way up to the top. Preheat the oven to 450.
Separate about 1/3 of the dough and set aside. This will be for the square pan.
Using a rolling pin, form the larger portion of dough into a circle. When it is almost as large as your pizza pan, roll it partially over the rolling pin, then transfer it to the pizza pan. Use your hands to press it closer to the edge and to form a higher crust at the edges.
Place the smaller portion of dough into the square pan and use your hands to get it all the way into the edges and corners. Form a higher crust at the edges of the pan.
Spread a thin layer of sauce on the round pizza and a thicker coating on the square one.
When the oven has preheated, place the square pan on the higher rack in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are crispy and golden-brown.
Sprinkle any pizza toppings you like on the round pizza. Bake at least 15 minutes on the lower rack, watching carefully (don't let the cheese burn!)
After removing pizzas from oven, allow Tomato Pie to cool slightly, then add a dusting of Parmesano-Reggiano or Romano cheese. Serve at room temperature (it tastes great hot, too, if you can't wait...ask me how I know!)
Tomato Pie would be great for lunchboxes, as it doesn't require reheating.