Tomato Pie (pan pizza)

Its been a fairly hectic couple of weeks to say the least. We’ve made the decision to homeschool Riley and most likely Connor as well when the time comes. So to say that I’ve been busy is an understatement. We live in a state where homeschooling is heavily regulated. I’m jumping through hoops to get things in order to get things as they “should” be. I started Neo-Homeschooling to document this journey and hopefully that proves useful for someone else someday, at the very least I hope I can look back on all this stress and think holy wow I was so crazy, this is great. Frankly I’m still kind of squirming with anxiety but I’m sure it will settle down soon enough. On top of that we’ve all been sick, right before Christmas we got blessed by the “holiday cheer” once again. With Riley it almost turned into pneumonia. We’re all finally on antibiotics and hopefully it will be done with…finally.


With being so busy one thing that I’ve fallen back on for quick homemade suppers is pizza. Everyone loves  pizza its delicious, satisfying and its not to hard to make if you just prepare the dough whenever you have extra time. (or if you really wanted to you could just buy the stuff in a baggy at the grocery mart) A pizza I recently made was what I’d call a show stopper, and that’s my tomato pie. From what I can tell tomato pie is only found in the Philly/Jersey area. When I was younger I went to a flea market with my mom in Jersey and we always got tomato pie. Although the market did have other stuff the tomato pie shop was what kept you going back. (unless you were really in need of a new bong or twenty cent socks.)
Tomato pie isn’t some gourmet brick fired thin crust thing with pickled fairy wings. Its straight forward and simple but its the simplicity that makes it so awesome. Bread, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese. You could use a  good quality parm but I find that the stuff in a green tube is actually the BEST for this. Its almost sweet with the tomato sauce and buttery crust. Wait I haven’t gotten to the crust yet? For years we would buy pizzas from pizza hut that had this delicious buttery crust, and although we always loved their crust I always thought the sauce was kind of salty. With no delivery here I don’t see the point in driving 30 minutes across town to pick it up and drive it home another 30 minutes when I can try and make it myself.  I think I’ve found the key…a cast iron pan and butter. How is it I didn’t think of this sooner? Its the secret to so many great things. You want a great steak? Cook it in butter in a cast iron pan. You want fabulous pancakes? Butter and cast iron. It seems so obvious now but I  really do love this pan style pizza. The dough remains chewy and delicate and although you can overwhelm it with fancy pants ingredients I kind of like just a little bit of something good. Although Stephen and the boys still truly adore the thinner crust pizza with all the stuff, I’m going to make a point to make myself one of these when I can its really a happy tummy food, yum yum good!  

Tomato Pie (pan pizza)
Ingredients can vary as you like them. I typically use a sweet-ish tomato sauce. Sometimes I’ll use a pre-made sauce and add a pinch extra sugar or I’ll simply open a can of tomatoes and add salt, pepper, dried basil , maybe garlic powder and some sugar. Jarred tomato sauces already have a lot of sugar added to them for preservation but they don’t really taste sweet  its not meant for sweetness its there as an additive. So ideally the canned tomatoes are a better way to go. For the crust I use a homemade dough, you could use the dough in a bag found in most grocery marts its semi-fresh I guess, but don’t use the pop tin dough.
One 12″ pie:
pizza dough, (about 8 ounces per pan)
1/2-1 tablespoon butter
2-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 
tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees. (If I’m making thinner crust pizza as well I set the heat even higher)
Place your cast iron skillet into the oven to heat with the oven for about 10 minutes. Pat or roll your pizza dough out to the size of your pan. You can vary  your amounts depending on how large of a skillet your using. (Mine is about 12″) Toss a tablespoon of butter into the pan and allow to melt, once the butter begins to bubble remove from the oven. Drizzle with a smidge of olive oil and place dough into the pan. Pat the dough around to flatten slightly, be careful of the hot pan. Smear about 1/3 cup of sauce onto the pizza, sprinkle with a hand full of Parmesan cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes.
Note: You can make a traditionall pizza with lots of cheese and toppings however you’ll want to bake the crust about 4 or five minutes by itself before placing on the sauce. Add sauce and bake another 4 or five, then add toppings and finish.