Even though turning on the oven in the middle of August isn’t on the top of most people’s list, there are a few dishes that are worth the extra mercury on the thermometer. Tomato cobbler is one of them.
“Cobbler? But that’s a dessert!,” is the reaction of most folks. Not in this case. This cobbler is a savory take on the classic sweet dessert and uses fresh and juicy summer tomatoes in place of the fruit (though, technically, tomatoes are also considered to be fruit).
Why tomatoes, you ask? Sure, you could throw them in a nice, cold salad, but have you ever popped them in the oven and baked them until they burst? Their natural sugars are enhanced with the application of heat and roasting them brings out their sweetness and even more flavor over eating them raw. In short, roasted tomatoes are a-mazing. If you have access to heirloom tomatoes, splurge and use them in this dish as they have even more “meat” and flavor to them than most tomatoes in the market.
To make this easy tomato cobbler, the vegetables (or “fruit and veg”) are cooked in a pan and poured into a baking dish over a cornmeal batter. To give it an even more homey and rustic look, use an ovenproof or cast iron pan to cook, bake and serve it in. And if you get the hankering for this savory side dish and tomatoes aren’t in season, simply use drained, canned tomatoes (the no-salt added kind). It tastes great when served fresh out of the oven, but tastes even more heavenly if it is allowed to sit and cool a little while and served at room temperature. It also makes fantastic leftovers when reheated and served the following day.
Grab the sumptuous flavors of late summer while you still can, crank up that oven, and make this mouthwatering cobbler as soon as humanly possible.
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine and The Homesick Texan
Makes 8-10 servings
Olive oil, as needed
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large tomato (I used an heirloom), core and seeds removed, large diced
1 cup cherry or sunburst tomatoes, whole
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup light, dry white wine (like Sauvignon Blanc)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large saute or medium cast iron pan over medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot, add the onion and sweat them until they just start to become soft, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, and garlic, and cook for about one minute. Add wine, raise the heat a bit, and cook for another minute or two to reduce the liquid. When the cherry tomatoes just start to split, turn the heat off and set filling aside. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the batter, melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove top. If you’re using a pan or cast iron to make this, remove the filling from the pan, wipe out pan, and proceed to melt butter in it. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt until combined. Gently stir in the milk and melted butter, followed by the cheese and chives. Mix until batter is combined (do not over mix).
Pour batter in a 8×8″ or 9×13″ baking dish and dollop the filling on top, making sure to leave out any excess liquid. Don’t stir the cobbler. Do the same if using a pan/cast iron. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until the batter is fluffy and set; test it with a toothpick or skewer. Top with more cheese and bake until the cheese has just melted.
Let the cobbler cool down for a few minutes before serving and serve warm or at room temperature.