The end of summer is the time to make tomato pie.

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Plenty of baskets of big and sometimes odd-shaped tomatoes at farmers markets signal tomato time.

I came across an article on tomato pie in the September issue of Cook’s Country Magazine. The author wrote that although juiciness is a “strength of a good tomato” it makes tomato pie challenging because juicy tomatoes can make the bottom crust doughy.

After testing several variations, the author found that draining the tomatoes for about 30 minutes and blotting them dry was a big help. For an added layer of protection, the author sprinkled shredded cheese on the bottom crust before the tomato slices were added. I took it one step further and brushed the bottom crust with beaten egg white before adding the cheese. The egg white, once cooked, creates a glaze on the inner bottom crust, preventing it from getting soggy.

Today’s recipe is adapted from the one featured in Cook’s Country. I have an abundance of fresh herbs in my garden and couldn’t bear not to toss some in between the tomato layers. Using the reduced-fat mayonnaise worked out just fine because it’s a tad sweet and blends nicely with the tomatoes.

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Although I prefer to make my own pie crust, I skimped and used store-bought pie crust this time. I always give store-bought crust a quick roll with a rolling pin after unfolding it. For an added touch, I rolled in some finely chopped fresh herbs.

Summer Tomato Pie

Makes 8 servings

Favorite crust for a 2-crust pie or packaged refrigerated pie crust

2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 large), cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese such as cheddar cheese or Mexican or Italian blend, divided

1 beaten egg white

4 green onions, washed, ends removed, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs such as tarragon, basil or thyme, divided

1. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate, letting excess hang over the pie plate. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll out dough for the top crust between plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Follow package instructions if using store-bought dough.

2. Line a sided baking sheet with a paper towel. Arrange the tomato slices on the paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let them sit and drain for 30 minutes, then press tomatoes with more paper towels until they are very dry.

3. Place an empty, sided baking sheet in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

4. In a bowl mix the mayonnaise, cornstarch and 1 cup of the cheese.

5. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator. Brush the bottom of the pie crust with beaten egg white and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the bottom crust.

6. Arrange a third of tomatoes over the cheese. Spread half of the mayonnaise mixture over the tomatoes and sprinkle with half of the green onions and 1 tablespoon of the herbs. Layer with another third of the tomatoes and remaining mayonnaise, green onions and 1 tablespoon herbs. Top with remaining tomatoes.

7. Place the top crust on pie. Press crusts together, fold edges under and crimp edges. Cut four 2-inch-by-1-inch oval vents in the top of the pie.

8. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool some before serving.

Adapted from Cook’s Country, September 2009.

Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

(c) 2009, Detroit Free Press.