Baker and author Zoe Nathan says that this cherry tomato and goat cheese cobbler recipe is one of her favorite summer breakfasts. I get that. I do. Tomato, thyme, goat cheese—all warm-weather flavors. And though neither The One nor I are big fans of tomatoes for breakfast, we’ve already found plenty of non-morning ways to serve this spectacular gem of a recipe.
One such occasion was last night, when we whipped this up to usher in our first autumn dinner. (Even though, seasonally speaking, we have seven more days until fall, the weather in Roxbury this weekend had us reaching for sweatshirts and scarves as we sat around the fire pit.) The cobbler was pretty in our fresh-off-the-assembly-line Fiesta bowls in lemongrass, scarlet, lapis, and shamrock. It was the opening act for a superb fennel-crusted roast pork loin with apples and onions.
To say our guests, Carlotta and Ed, were speechless is an understatement. And that’s saying a lot about Carlotta, the mockingbird of our circle. The tomatoes were so sweet, it felt as if we were eating a fruit cobbler. (And, yes, I do know that tomatoes are fruits.) Yet it was the savory elements—the goat cheese, thyme, pepper—that made this so extraordinary. There was a bit of umami flavor going on in there. Oh, and there’s the wonder that is Zoe’s biscuit topping. My, oh my, my, my. (I may have snuck a few extra biscuits while I was in the kitchen cleaning up in between courses. And that’s something between me and my Weight Watchers points, thank you very much.)
Suffice it to say, The One and I will continue making this cobbler far into autumn and even winter, so long as good produce can be found. Yes, I will burn in hell for causing a bigger carbon footprint than necessary by eating tomatoes harvested in Chile or Peru, but if this recipe is on our menu, I’m willing to take the chance. When it comes to this cobbler, this guy’s soul is for sale.
The loveliness incarnate that created this tomato and goat cheese cobbler, Zoe Nathan, had a little caveat to offer about the recipe. “It won’t look or feel like a traditional deep-dish cobbler, because it’s made in a skillet and there isn’t an overabundance of tomatoes. Think of it more as a shallow-dish cobbler.” That’s what she said. Originally published September 17, 2014.–David Leite
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Dump in the butter cubes. Using a pastry blender, work the butter until you have pea- to lima bean-size pieces. (If you have particularly cold hands, you can use your fingertips.) Drizzle in the buttermilk and toss the mixture with a fork until it’s evenly moistened.
Plop the dough on a clean work surface. Press and squeeze the dough until it begins to hold together. (If you tossed it well with the fork, this should be a cinch. If you see dry spots, it’s best to use the fork to mix the dough instead of your hands. Whatever you do, don’t overwork the dough.) When all is said and done, you should still see pea-size bits of butter running through the dough.
Shape the dough into a disc about 3/4 inch (2 centimeters) thick. Using a 1 1/2 inch (4 centimeter) biscuit cutter, cut out 9 biscuits. Gently gather the dough scraps together, press them into a slab again, and cut out more biscuits. (I was able to get 15 biscuits.) Transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet and slide them in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours. (You can stash the biscuits in a resealable plastic bag and freeze them for up to 3 months to simplify throwing the cobbler together at the last minute easy. You’ll want to allow them a little extra time to thaw a little after taking them out of the freezer and before baking them.)
Make the tomato filling
Crank your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Toss the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, half the thyme, salt, and pepper in an ovenproof skillet. (I used a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and it worked marvelously.) Cover the skillet and cook on the stovetop over medium-high heat until the tomatoes begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover the skillet and continue cooking until all the tomatoes have burst slightly and released their juices.
Remove the biscuits from the freezer and generously brush the tops with the egg wash. Place them on top of the tomato mixture in the skillet, spacing them 1 inch (2 1/2 centimeters) apart.
Bake the cobbler for 25 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and dot the goat cheese between the biscuits, covering any exposed tomato mixture. Return the whole shebang to the oven, bump up the heat to 450°F (232°C) and continue baking until the top is nicely browned, about 10 minutes more. Scatter the remaining thyme over the top and serve the cobbler warm or at room temperature, scooping the cobbler straight from the skillet at the table. If you’re like me, you’ll want to gild each serving with an extra crank or so freshly ground black pepper. The cobbler is best eaten the day it’s made. (Like it could ever make it to another day.)