Ken Haedrich literally wrote the book on pie.

“I can’t eat anything without imagining it’s better wrapped in pastry,” the author of the definitive 2004 tome “Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie” said.

While the berries and fresh fruit available this time of year prove irresistible to the prolific baker, one of the season’s more savory ingredients is a regular star in his kitchen. Haedrich is something of an evangelist for the tomato pie, a Southern staple with which he’s experimented extensively.

“Like any food topic, tomato pie can be the source of some emotion. People get downright nasty when it’s not done the way they think it should be done,” Haedrich said. “I’m a Yankee, so folks around here may not cozy up to the idea of me suggesting how it should be done, but what’s a tomato pie without a little controversy, right?”

The author of 16 cookbooks author has recently relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, with his wife, Bev, although the two have long been visitors to the area. Haedrich has shared several tomato pie recipes on his website, thepieacademy.com. A trip to area restaurant Henry’s several years ago inspired one variant laced with a pesto cream sauce. A version in his forthcoming book “Dinner Pies” re-imagines it as a marriage with a tuna melt sandwich.

“The variables are mind-boggling and anything but definitive. What type of tomato? Plum, beefsteak, cherry, heirloom, green,” Haedrich said. “It’s many different things to many different people.”

One thing tomato pie definitely isn’t, however, is a piece of cake. Haedrich shies away from the notion that anything can be “as easy as pie.”

“Pie making isn’t particularly easy, there’s a lot of little nuance to it,” he said. “And I can’t say that in the pantheon of savory pies tomato is the easiest one to do, either.”

Fortunately, Haedrich is a teacher at heart. He launched The Pie Academy in 2012 as a free online resource to help home bakers improve their pastries. If you’re completely new to pies, his No More Tears Pie Pastry Course is required viewing, and a perfect starting place for the tomato pie recipes he’s shared with the StarNews. If you’re a seasoned pro, feel free to use our favorite crust recipe, although Haedrich does advise par-baking the pastry.

Contact Paul Stephen at Paul.Stephen@StarNewsOnline.com.