A huge storm has descended upon our island leaving us with gale force winds and lots of rain. But before this crazy storm rolled in, my hubby and I hurried to his dad’s countryside garden to harvest all of the unripe tomatoes that were left on the vines. My first thought was to make fried green tomatoes because I am a child of the 90’s and the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was one of my very favorite films growing up. When we got home with our bounty of green tomatoes my mind started churning through all manner of ideas of how to use up our bounty. Fried green tomatoes always seem to be our first choice, but we had so many green tomatoes to use, I wanted to make something different and less ‘expected.’ A brown sugar & spice sweet green tomato pie is where I ended up and let me tell you guys, this is one of the best pies we have ever tasted!
Now, you may be reading this and thinking to yourself that using unripe tomatoes for a sweet pie filling sounds crazy and to tell you the truth, it does sound crazy! But sweet green tomato pies are actually common in the South of the United States and for good reason. Unripe tomatoes are crisp and have a brightness that is very similar to apples, which means when you cook them down with brown sugar & spices, you end up with a jammy pie filling that actually tastes reminiscent of an apple pie. The similarity is so present, I bet you could serve this to someone blindfolded and they would think it was the best apple pie they had ever tasted!
The crazy thing about this brown sugar & spice sweet green tomato pie is that both my hubby and I agreed that we actually prefer green tomatoes over apples for a pie filling now! You really have to taste it to believe just how delicious green tomatoes are when prepared this way!
If you grew tomatoes in your summer garden you may be left with unripe tomatoes this fall as the weather starts to cool down or you may be able to get some green tomatoes from your local farmers market – either way, if you can manage to get even enough green tomatoes just to make this brown sugar & spice sweet green tomato pie, I promise you it will be worth it! And if you do make it, please let me know what you think of green tomatoes as a pie filling ;)
1/2cup ice water (have a more ready in case you need it)
1 tbsp heavy cream (or coconut milk for dairy free option)
2 tbsp turbinado sugar for sprinkling
FOR THE FILLING
1cup (200g) brown sugar, packed
5 tablespoons (60g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground all spice
1/4 tsp ground clove
pinch of salt
3cups very thinly sliced green tomatoes (about 4 to 5 medium sized tomatoes sliced in 1/8″ (3mm) slices) *use unripe, green tomatoes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
FOR THE PIE CRUST
Measure the flour into a bowl, add sugar & salt, whisk well to combine
Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the bowl of flour, stopping after you have grated each stick to gently coat the grated butter with the flour
Once all of the butter is grated into the flour, use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the grated butter into the flour until the butter is in large pea sized pieces
Use a tablespoon to add a few tablespoons of ice water to the bowl, then gently toss the dough with a fork to distribute the ice water – continue this process until you have added all of the ice water
Pour the pie dough out onto your countertop or into a large flat bowl. Begin to bring press the dough together with your hands, the dough should come together without falling apart, but not be too mushy with water. *if the dough is not holding together, or if there is still too much dry flour then you can add a couple more tablespoons of ice water and try pressing the dough together again.
Once the dough is pressed together into a ball, divide the dough into two pieces, press each piece into a disc, wrap each disc and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
When the dough is finished chilling, sprinkle your work surface with flour, place the chilled dough on the floured surface & roll the dough out from the center, adding a little flour and turning the dough a 1/4 turn in between rolling to make sure that the dough is not sticking too much to your surface.
Make sure the dough is round and even in thickness and that it will fit the pan you are using (I usually roll my dough for a 9″ pan to about an 11-12″ diameter round)
Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to your pie plate and place it in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling
FOR THE FILLING & ASSEMBLY
In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, clove, allspice and salt.
Add the very thinly sliced green tomatoes and vinegar; toss to thoroughly coat the tomatoes with the sweet flour mixture.
Roll out the larger of your two balls of dough—your bottom crust—to about 10 inches. Place it in the 9-inch pie plate. Add filling, dotting the top with butter.
Roll out remaining pie dough just as you did the first one. You can make a lattice crust or just use the whole round and cut a few vent holes into the top crust to allow steam to escape during baking.
Trim the edges of your crusts, leaving about 1 inch of dough overlapping the pie plate. Fold up the edges and flute or crimp them to your liking.
Brush the surface of your top crust with the heavy cream and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Pre-heat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes while your oven preheats
Once pie is chilled and oven is pre-heated, place the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet (to catch any overflow of the pie juices while baking) and bake pie for 1 hour (cover the pie with aluminum foil once the crust has browned to your liking to prevent burning)
Allow pie to completely cool to room temperature to allow all of the juices to thicken
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream :)
*Unripe green tomatoes are tomatoes that are fully grown, but have not began to turn from green to their color of ripeness. For this recipe, make sure you are using fully grown, unripe tomatoes for best results
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