Dessert or Side Dish? Green Tomato Pie.


Green tomato pie is delicious no matter when you eat it.

Is it dessert? It’s sweet, lemony, and has cinnamon and nutmeg in it. Is it a side dish? It’s made with tomatoes and it went very well with chicken fricassee. I know, I know: tomatoes are technically a fruit, but we don’t usually eat tomato sauce for dessert.

Phyllis Wardwell in Bucksport sent me this recipe last week after reading about fried green tomatoes. She wrote, “You didn’t mention the best of all — Green Tomato Pie. Made exactly like an apple pie – but so much better!” Her note triggered an old memory of mine about a family I lived with while I attended Clark University in Worcester. Susie Hutchins was a very good cook, and we had green tomato pie for supper one night, and it was our main course. I recall liking it, but can’t remember if it was sweet or not.

So I gave Phyllis’s recipe a try this weekend, and we liked it a lot. We had it warm with the fricassee, and our neighbor John, baching it for a couple of days, joined us and liked it well enough to have seconds. Then we ate it cold the next day and found it was very good that way, too. Probably, this iteration of green tomato pie veers toward the dessert side of the aisle. As with so much of what I write about here, I think you ought to suit yourself.

The recipe called for the tomatoes to be cut in half-inch slices, and I think the next time I try this, I will cut them a little thinner. Just for the heck of it, I think I will also try making it with light brown sugar. Toby opined that it could be a little less sweet, but that, too, is a matter of taste. If you follow the recipe below, you will end up with a perfectly delicious and satisfying pie. If you serve it room temperature or cold, the filling holds together very nicely.

Green Tomato Pie

Pastry sufficient for a double crust nine inch pie

4 cups sliced green tomatoes

Juice of one lemon or ¼ cup lemon juice

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons tapioca

3 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the tomato slices and lemon juice. Whisk together the sugar, tapioca, flour, and spices, and toss with the tomatoes. Line the pie plate with pastry and put the filling in, and top with the remaining pastry. Bake for forty to forty-five minutes.

Makes one nine-inch pie.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.