This summer (because summer isn't over until Sept. 23) I seem to be in a bit of a culinary phase where I blur the lines between what is traditionally sweet and what is traditionally savory. I’ve added sweet elements like nectarines and watermelon to usually savory salads, and the traditionally sweet berry shortcake took a savory twist with this tomato goat cheese version. I made a fruit crostata, and then later one with zucchini and ricotta; and now there is this tomato cobbler, a savory spin on what is usually a dessert.
For those of you are unfamiliar with cobbler (this is quite likely if you’re not from the U.S): cobbler is a dessert made with fruit (most usually stone fruit like peaches or plums) that is baked until juicy and bubbling, all topped off with a sweet biscuit topping. Tomatoes are technically a fruit, and biscuits can be both savory as well as sweet, so why not try and make a savory version of cobbler?
The verdict on this: the tomatoes, which are already at their best in the summer, become even sweeter when baked, and even better when paired with their trusty flavor soulmate, basil. That being said, the onions here were just as much of a standout as the tomatoes. I find that onions – despite being key to the base for sauces or soups -- are often an afterthought in a dish, unnoticed and under-appreciated. Here however they are slowly caramelized with garlic until perfectly sweet and balanced out with a bit of balsamic vinegar, making them standout and shine just as much as the tomatoes. It is super important that you do not skimp on cooking the onions here – you want them to be caramelized, not sauteed, to get the full effect of the dish. And ahhh, the biscuits – can you really go wrong when butter, cream, and cheese are your main ingredients? The topping was crunchy on the outside and flaky and soft on the inside, slightly sharp and salty thanks to the cheese, which contrasted nicely with the filling. I used Gruyere here but you could probably use another kind of cheese if you wanted – a good quality cheddar might be good, or even provolone. If that description wasn’t enough to convince you, this dish is also a great way to enjoy the last of the summer tomatoes, and can be served as a substantial side dish or even a main course (especially good for vegetarians). Enjoy everyone!
For the filling
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small clumps form. Stir in the cheese, then add the cream, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine until dough forms. Add a little more flour if dough seems overly sticky. Cover the biscuit dough and set aside.
Next, make the cobbler filling. Add the olive oil and butter to a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and garlic cloves (I keep them whole to easily remove them later, as I'm not a huge fan of garlic) and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir the balsamic vinegar into the onion mixture and set aside. Remove the cloves of garlic and discard.
Adapted from recipes by Martha Stewart and Joy the Baker (www.joythebaker.com).