It’s August and local tomatoes here in CT are everywhere, including our backyard. As I mentioned yesterday, we’ll likely be overrun with cherries by the end of the week, and the first heirloom we cut into last night was summer tomato perfection. My parents attempted to grow tomatoes a few times when I was a kid but the freaking squirrels usually got the best of them so it was either up to my mom’s friends to drop a few by every couple of weeks in ever-hazy August or my mom would hit up some local farm stands. And by local, I mean the little old Italian lady around the corner selling the vegetables she grew on her available 1/16 acre of property. But those homegrown tomatoes…man, I could eat them like an apple and to this day, it’s the first thing I think of when August comes to mind.
So this meal…admittedly, I was a little skeptical about this one. Cobbler biscuits over roasted tomatoes? Really? But you must trust me here. This is one fine summer meal. In fact, it’s pretty darn spectacular (except for having to use the oven and all but really…totally worth it, people). You’ll caramelize some onions, throw in the freshest cherry tomatoes that you can find, and whip up a super quick Gruyère-thyme biscuit batter that you’ll dollop on top of the tomatoes and onions. The only tough part about this meal is waiting for it to bake. But the end result is truly magical: slow-roasted tomatoes that juice out into a thick and almost-sweet sauce with deeply flavored caramelized onions and fluffy savory biscuits that soak up the sauce and add a little nuttiness to whole meal. I urge you to try to find some local cherry tomatoes if you’re not already growing them because this really is what summer eating is about!
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed and minced
- 3 lbs cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp crushed red-pepper flakes
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed and minced
- Coarse salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (2 1/4 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- To make the filling: Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set the mixture aside to cool for 10 minutes. While the onions cool, preheat oven to 375° F.
- In a large bowl, toss the onion mixture with the tomatoes, flour, and red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and about 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- To make the biscuit topping: Whisk the flour, baking powder, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a bowl until well-combined. Gently toss in the butter pieces and coat them with the flour mixture. Rub the butter in with your fingers (use your thumbs and first two fingers) until the mixture becomes a little crumbly and the butter forms small clumps - you'll need to use a little pressure to get the cold butter to break up so don't be afraid to "get dirty". Stir in the cheese then pour in the cream. Stir the cheese and cream in with a fork to combine just until a dough forms and no flour remains - the dough should be wet and sticky.
- Transfer the tomato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish or 9x13 inch baking dish. Using a large ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup drop clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/2 cup each) over the top of the tomatoes on the outside edge of the dish, leaving the center open. Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Bake until the tomatoes are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.