Saturday, August 2, 2014

Green Tomato Pie with Buttermilk-Cornmeal Crust

Inspired by Nothing in the House's green tomato pie, I decided to bake a pie featuring the unripe fruit, but savory instead of sweet. Being from the Bronx, I know next to nothing about green tomatoes and their properties, but I threw together a heap of my favorite ingredients, and the end result was smashing. A flaky, tender crust with a hint of grit gives way to a forkful of the season's bounty. I bought most of my ingredients at the Silver Spring farmer's market, and it was worth the airiness in my wallet to put this on the table.




2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
pinch salt
2 sticks butter
3/4-1 cup buttermilk



4-5 medium green tomatoes (the unripe kind, not the heirloom kind--they should be as hard and sour as a third-grade teacher coming back from vacation)
1 package veggie bacon
4 ears corn (or half a bag frozen, preferably Trader Joe's blackened kernels)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove
3 scallions, sliced
handful basil leaves, chopped fine
2 Tbsp cornstarch
pinch or two salt
generous amount ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
squeeze lemon
1/2 tsp honey
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated



You'll probably want to alternate between the crust part of the instructions and the filling part. You can also make the dough ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate it. If you freeze, let it thaw for a few hours in the refrigerator before attempting to roll. You can also make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate.


Obtain a 10-inch pie pan. Set aside.

Cut the butter into cubes. Put in a bowl and place in the freezer until frozen--about 20 to 30 minutes.

Pour flour, cornmeal, and salt into a food processor. Pulse to aerate. (The lazy chef's way of sifting.)

When butter is frozen, pulse with the flours until the butter is in pea-sized chunks. It won't take a lot of pulsing. Even if you overdo it and the mixture turns into a sandy powder, let's face it, it will still be pie crust.

Pour everything into a bowl. Add buttermilk a little at a time and work it in with your hands until the dough just sticks together in a ragged clump. (I estimated the amount above, but use your best judgment.)

Form dough into two balls, wrap tightly in plastic, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Now you can start the filling!

Filling halfway there? It's time to roll the crust. Here is my no-fail, easy-if-you-have-all-the-components method.

Tear off two large sheets of parchment paper or wax paper.

Lay the first sheet on a silicon pie mat or your countertop.

Place one of the rounds of dough on the sheet. Place the other sheet on top.

Using a rolling pin (I prefer the French kind), roll out the dough, turning the mat or the sheet of paper as you go so that it flattens into an even circle (who are we kidding--a geometrically unclassifiable surface that looks vaguely round if you take off your glasses).

When the dough seems roughly the size and flatness needed to serve as a bottom crust, peel from the paper and place in the pie pan, trimming, adding, and crimping as needed. Prick some holes on the bottom and sides with a fork.

Place the pan in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. 

You have the filling all ready to go?

Don't reach for your iPhone just yet! You still have the other round of dough.

Repeat the steps above, chortling gleefully this time, as the dough won't have to labor like its more industrious twin to line a baking dish. It need only be dropped from above to form the perfect covering for your filling.

When the dough seems flat enough and the circumference long enough to form a top crust, take the bottom crust out of the freezer. Heap with filling, then top with top crust. Prick holes in the top crust with a fork.

Follow the instructions below for baking.



Preheat the oven to 425.

Put a little oil in a pan. Sear the veggie bacon. Remove from heat.

Thinly slice tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Add salt and toss.

Tear veggie bacon into pieces and toss with tomatoes.

Scrape the kernels off the ears of corn (or pour in frozen corn) and add to the tomato mixture.

Mix in red pepper, green pepper, and onions.

Crush in garlic.

Add scallions and basil.

Add cornstarch and toss until consistency is uniform.

Add ground pepper and red pepper flakes. Squeeze in lemon and massage in the bit of honey.

Grate in the cheese (I did this right into the bowl--the measurement above is an approximation).

Toss everything together with your hands. Add more of anything that seems underrepresented.

Once you've assembled your pie as described above, place it in the oven.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake another 40-50 minutes, until crust is golden-brown and edges are fizzing.

You may want to cover the crust with aluminum foil after the first 5 minutes, taking the foil off 10 minutes from the end.

Set pie on a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.

I bet this pie tastes good cold.



  • I completely winged this recipe, and suggest that you do the same. For the filling, use whatever you like, in whatever quantities. The green tomatoes provide a backdrop for anything pungent, spicy, savory, crunchy, or herbal.
  • I actually used green olives instead of green pepper and onions, but tasting the pie a few times convinced me that green pepper and onions would have been the better call. This pie is so glorious, though, that olives won't exactly leave you crying in your beer.
  • If you want, you can chop up some rosemary and add it to the pie dough. You can also use dried herbs.
  • Gruyere would be good in lieu of cheddar.
  • I used veggie bacon because I'm a vegetarian. Salty protein from a vegetable: modern life is delicious.
  • I did not add a lot of basil for fear of overpowering the pie. You can experiment with more, or try other herbs such as marjoram or oregano.
  • This recipe is for a 10-inch pie. For a 9-inch pie, your crust could have 2 heaping cups flour, 1/3 cup cornmeal, 15 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Maybe subtract a tomato.



5 stars. One of my favorite recipes yet and a summer keeper.

1 comment:

  1. Very impressive! Somehow I don't think there was any difficulty with the step involving obtaining a pie pan.