I'm declaring this cobbler the Recipe of Summer. It take those pints of cherry tomatoes that you can't help bringing home from the farmers market and transforms them into silky, oh-so-tender bites. Plus, you know, cheddar biscuits. Trust me: it's worth turning on the oven for this one.
Make sure your cast iron skillet is well-seasoned for this recipe. Tomatoes are acidic, and they can dissolve the seasoning somewhat. This isn't a big deal with a well-seasoned skillet — just rub it with a little oil after cleaning — but it can set you back a few seasonings with a new skillet. New skillets can also sometimes give acidic foods an unpleasant metallic flavor.
If you'd prefer not to use cast iron for this, you can also cook the cobbler in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet with high sides or in a 13x9-inch baking dish.
On its own, this cobbler makes a very satisfying vegetarian main dish. One biscuit each, plus a generous scoop of warm tomatoes, and dig in! It's filling, but not actually too heavy — it still feels like a good summer dinner. It would also go nicely with some grilled chicken on the side.
Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal-Cheddar Biscuits
Serves 6 to 8
4 pints cherry tomatoes (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine (or 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
For the biscuits: 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup + 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk, plus extra to brush.
Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack placed in the middle of the oven
Pick the stems off of the cherry tomatoes and rinse them under running water. Larger tomatoes can be sliced in half, but I generally just leave the tomatoes whole.
Warm the olive oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or high-sided stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. When warm, add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until the onions are very soft and tender, at least 10 minutes, or if you have the patience, lower the heat and continue cooking for another 20 or 30 minutes to caramelize the onions. (Read more: How To Caramelize Onions)
Stir the garlic into the onions and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour in the wine (or balsamic) and cook until the wine has mostly evaporated. Stir in the flour and cook until the flour is paste-like. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt, carefully stirring and folding until the onions are evenly mixed with the tomatoes.
To prepare the biscuits, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Cut the cold butter into chunks and scatter it over the flour. Pulse a few times until the butter has been cut into pea-sized pieces.
Transfer the flour-and-butter mixture to a bowl and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar (reserve the other 1/2 cup for sprinkling over the top). Form a well in the middle and pour in 3/4 cup of buttermilk for firmer biscuits, or 1 cup of buttermilk for looser biscuits. Use a spatula to gently stir the buttermilk into the flour; continue stirring until all the buttermilk has been incorporated and no more dry flour remains. (Alternatively, you can make the biscuits entirely in a bowl and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut in the butter.)
Drop the dough over the tomatoes, making 7 to 8 biscuits. Brush the biscuits with a little buttermilk. Place the skillet on a baking sheet to catch drips, and then transfer to the oven.
Cook for 55 to 60 minutes, until the tomatoes are very bubbly and the tops of the biscuits are nicely browned. About 10 minutes before the end of baking, sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar.
Remove from the oven and let the cobbler rest for at least 15 minutes before eating. Leftovers will keep for about a week.
This recipe can also be cooked in a 13x9-inch baking dish or other 3 quart baking dish. Prepare the tomato mixture in a skillet on the stovetop, then transfer to the baking dish, top with the biscuits, and bake until bubbly.