The first time I had Philly Tomato Pie, I was blown away! I didn’t think what was basically a big, rectangular pizza with no melty cheese could be so fabulously flavorful.
So you might look at these photos and think the same thing – that is if you’re not from Philadelphia or the surrounding area. And thinking that would be a mistake for sure, especially since Philly Tomato Pies are so easy to make. (For a pizza, anyway!)
About Philly Tomato Pie:
Philly Tomato Pie has a thick layer of tomato sauce on top. That sauce (in my recipe and probably most) is made from crushed tomatoes, lots of garlic, herbs, and spices. It’s cooked to thicken it up which concentrates all the flavor and makes this tomato sauce intense.
The sauce is layered on top of a thick dough; some say the dough is just like focaccia, and it’s not far off, but a bit denser. The dough where it meets the sauce forms a thin layer of its own, and that gives way to a soft doughy center. And then that gives way to a golden brown, crispy bottom.
And, as you can see in the pics, the only cheese is a good sprinkle (use as much or as little as you want) of Parmesan. Freshly grated, please, and finely grated. If you’d like to read more about this “Pie” check out this article, Tomato Pie from the Encyclopedia of Philadelphia.
Making Philly Tomato Pie:
You’re gonna need to start with the dough (I make my fave Tyler Florence recipe that I “stole” years ago!) which is super easy with a stand mixer. If you don’t have one, just go for hand kneading. It’ll take a bit longer. Once finished, that dough will have a first rise, then be spread out on a 10″ x 15″ sheet tray.
It’s not going to fill the tray up completely, but loosely cover it and as it rises, it’s gonna be just fine. It’s gonna grow into that sheet pan. That’s gonna take about 45 minutes to an hour. Of course, you can nudge it around as needed.
While the dough is rising, start with the sauce. I like a can of crushed tomato in sauce. If you wish, you can saute onions and garlic. Personally, I like the sauce smoother so I do use fresh garlic and onion powder.
Partially cover that pan so evaporation does its thing w/o having tomato sauce spattered all over the kitchen. Cook low and slow; it should take about 45 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, stir in about a good tablespoon of tomato paste and cook until thickened. Cool that sauce (I like to toss in the freezer) to room temperature before using.
Serving Philly Tomato Pie:
This recipe makes a substantial pie. I think there are some who would only eat one piece and be satisfied. Ummm – that is NOT my family!! If you’re serving for dinner, and have maybe a good salad alongside, I’d say it would serve 2 adults and 2 children. If you are serving my son, he could eat two pizzas on his own, lol!
If you are planning on making more than one, I’ve heard peeps say it’s best to bake one at a time. At the very least, if you bake two, rotate your pans and switch up the position from top to bottom halfway through.
Storing and Reheating:
Any time storing something like pizza which is no good once it becomes soggy, refrigerate and then once cool, cover.
Reheat in the microwave on a paper towel (ok option), in an air fryer (best option – it’s a game changer for leftover pizza) or in the oven at 375 degrees F. until heated through. I have heard people say that a skillet with a cover is a fantastic way to reheat pizza but I have never tried that.
- Buy baked goods like flour and yeast prior to the big baking holidays or at your big box store, Aldi, or Lidl. Toss any items containing flour into the freezer for three days. Keep yeast in the freezer where it stays good almost forever!
- I almost always buy big cans of whole tomatoes on sale and toss them in the blender or crush by hand for a recipe like this. It’s a super way to keep cost low. In this particular case, I did use canned, crushed tomato because I wanted to start out with a thick product.
- Parmesan cheese in a wedge is one of the most cost-effective ways to buy. It cost so much less than pre-grated and it’s not going to be dried out and/or hard. Make America Grate Again I say!! Check out the prices of a block or pre-grated ounce for ounce and you’ll see what I mean.
Hey guys, sometimes I feel like a food “pusher” but I urge you to try this recipe game or not! All the years I’ve gone without – wasted, wasted years, lol! Don’t be like me!! My apologies for not getting this recipe in time for the playoffs, but it looks like the Eagles are going to go to the Super Bowl this year! You have a 2nd chance.
Take care all, and stay warm!!
Rough Draft Philly Tomato Pie
- Prep Time: 2 1/2 hours
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minute
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup water, lukewarm – 100 to 110 degrees
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 cups unbleached flour, plus additional as needed and for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bowl and the pan
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic finely minced or run through a garlic press
- 1 29 ounce can crushed tomatoes in sauce
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 to 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and water and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes
If you’re using a stand mixer, combine the salt and flour in the bowl and pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture, at the lowest speed, until the flour incorporates. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough gathers into a ball. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough as you’re making it by squeezing a small amount together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water, if it’s sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times, kneading until it’s smooth and elastic.
If you’re making the dough by hand, add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and stir in the salt and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then begin stirring in the flour. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, knead in the rest of the flour by hand, adding just enough so that the dough is soft but not too sticky. Add the olive oil. As you work, squeeze a small amount of dough together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water; if it’s sticky add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a round and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat the dough entirely with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e., over a gas pilot light) until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Place dough on pan and stretch into a rectangle. Don’t worry if the pan isn’t full, the dough will relax and increase as it rises. Let rise for about 45 minutes to an hour in a warm place.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Stretch the pizza dough out in the pan, so the dough comes up the sides to form a crust on the rim. Using your fingers, make dimples in the dough.
Add the room-temperature tomato sauce and place the pizza in the oven for a total of about 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until crust is golden brown and bottom is crispy.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese while pizza is fresh from the oven.
Add olive oil and butter to a deep pot. Heat over medium high heat until butter is melted, add garlic and cook 1 minute to fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes and onion powder, oregano, sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt. Partially cover with a lid and lower temperature until the mixture is at a bare simmer.
Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 1/2 hour. Stir in tomato paste and cook another 15 minutes stirring often, or until sauce is thickened. Cool sauce before using.
Keywords: Cheese, crushed tomatoes, parmesan, Pizza, Tomatoes