Friday, August 31, 2012
Gluten-Free Green Tomato Crisp
What a whirlwind of a summer. Once I decided that I was going to move to Montana, I could hardly keep up with all the to-do lists and suddenly it was time to leave. Of course, this has resulted in me grossly neglecting the blog. I apologize, but I hope I can make it up by blogging up a storm this September.
A quick back story to keep everyone up-to-date:
I moved to Montana to pursue a graduate program in Sustainable Food and Farming at the University of Montana. Unfortunately, I have to re-establish my residency, so I won't be attending until next fall.
Anyway, I made it to Montana one week ago thanks to the enduringly selfless aid of both my parents. It was a doozy of a trek, but I made it. I am still in somewhat of a stupor having left so many good people in Portland. But, I guess it's on to the next phase.
After clocking in about 10 hours of painting (I'm the slowest and maybe sloppiest painter), my apartment is painted and somewhat organized. It feels nice to have finally settled in my own home.
I know that for many of you the time to quickly get rid of your unripe tomatoes has not quite hit. However, I'm sure there are a handful of you, who also had to move and abandon their garden's in the middle of tomato season. This seems to happen to me every year since I've started gardening. Last year I had at least some warning, so I planted most of my tomatoes in portable buckets. Sadly, this year I had to leave just as the first tomatoes were beginning to turn red. There were dozens and dozens of shiny, firm green tomatoes that were just asking to be picked. So, I harvested a bagful and schlepped them all the way to Montana. I figured I'd manage to whip up some unusual dessert with them.
Why gluten-free? Typically crisp toppings have a little white flour to help everything bind together. However, I was making dinner for my friend Emily who is gluten-free, so I thought I'd experiment. It was a little risky considering I had never even eaten green tomato pie before nor purposely made anything gluten-free. It was a double (triple?) experiment.
After a little research, I decided to replace the flour with some almond meal. Although the result was very different in texture than a regular flour topping, we both agreed that it was pretty good. The topping didn't clump up quite like a flour topping would - it was a little more spread out. But, the almonds really helped jazz up the overall flavor.
I was also debating about how much sugar to add to the fruit. Most apple crisp recipes don't call for sugar in the filling, but I also found that most green tomato pies have double the sugar than regular apple pies. So, I decided to put a little bit of sugar in just for security. I do think it ended up having the right amount of sweetness.
After tasting the first bite of the crisp, Emily and I gave each other the same look as if saying, "Is this right?" It tasted really good, but if you haven't had a green tomato dessert before, which neither of us had, then it is a little off-putting. Also, I had put in a few tomatoes that were just slightly turning red, which I think added more of that tomato flavor that you don't get from the unripe fruit. Though in the end, we both decided we really liked it.
Gluten-Free Green Tomato Crisp
makes about 6 servings
The main issue with the crisp was the that the tomatoes are much juicier than apples, so it was a little soupy the first day. Once it sat in the fridge overnight, it was just right. If you have tapioca, then I would recommend mixing it in with the tomatoes to help thicken up the juices.
When picking your green tomatoes, try to grab the ones that are still firm but have a shiny skin.
4 cups green tomatoes, cut in 1/8-inch slices, about 4 to 5 medium tomatoes
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp tapioca
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8-inch square baking dish. Toss sliced tomatoes with sugar, lemon juice, and tapioca (if using). Spread in baking dish.
3/4 cup gluten-free oats
3/4 cup almond meal* or almond flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
5 Tbsp softened butter
Mix oats, almond meal, and spices together in a bowl. Rub in butter. Gently pack onto sliced tomatoes in baking dish.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until crisp is bubbly, fragrant, and golden brown. Let cool slightly to thicken the juices.
Serve warm or cold, but always with ice cream.
*Note: To make almond meal, grind up 3/4 cup of almonds in a blender or food processor until very, very fine.