Hard, unripe green tomatoes may seem an unlikely ingredient for a sweet Southern pie, but once you’ve tasted this treat, you’ll understand why it has so many fans. Popular as a pie ingredient around the country, green tomatoes have a particular following in the South. From mid-August through the first frost, gardens start slowing down, and the bounty of green tomatoes tempts cooks to fry them up as a vegetable, can them as a tangy component of mincemeat, and slice and bake them in pies like this one. Not only are they treated like apples in pies, they are sometimes paired with apples as a pie filling-the two textures complementing each other nicely. To prepare the tomatoes, cut out their cores, and then slice each one very thinly crosswise. You can use vinegar in place of the lemon juice, with apple cider vinegar as first choice. Any kind except balsamic will do the job of bringing up the tangy contrast between the tomatoes and the sweet seasonings in this pie. Vanilla ice cream makes a perfect partner for this late-summer-into-fall pie.
- Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie (store-bought or basic Butter Pie Crust)
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups very thinly sliced green tomatoes (about 3½ pounds; see headnotes)
- 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 tablespoon vinegar
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of the crust, leaving a ½-inch overhang.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Use a fork or a whisk to stir everything together well. Add the thinly sliced green tomatoes and toss gently to season them evenly and well.
Transfer the seasoned tomatoes to the pie crust, and arrange them so that they are mounded up a little in the center. Scatter the small butter pieces over the top of the filling, and then sprinkle on the lemon juice.
Roll the remaining crust into a 10-inch circle. Place the top crust over the tomatoes, pressing it down gently to touch the top of the tomato filling. Trim away the extra pastry around the edges, and press the top and bottom edges together firmly. Fold up the bottom edges and crimp them, or press down on the edge with the back of a fork, sealing and decorating the pie. Cut about 8 slits around the top of the crust, so that steam can escape during baking.
Place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake until the pie is bubbling with sweet juices and a handsome golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes more.
Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.