|Old fashioned breaded tomatoes, or scalloped tomatoes, stewed down with a little onion, thickened with flour, lightly sweetened and tossed with toasted squares of bread, topped with cheese and baked. Great served with fried fish and mashed potatoes.|
Old Fashioned Breaded TomatoesAhh sadly, it's October and the time of year where we lament the passing of summer tomatoes, because even if you have a few still producing plants in your garden, they will all soon be gone. I'm starting to see less roadside stands and more hot-house tomatoes showing up in the store, so that's a sure sign. Winter tomatoes are just not the same, sigh, but.. I'm gonna try to squeeze in a few more recipes while I can. This recipe is not going to appeal to all of you, even for those of you who love tomatoes, because of the texture issue with combining a stewed tomato with bread. Still, I know that some of you will probably have memories of your mamas and grandmas serving up a dish of these.
The primary focus of my site from the beginning has always been to focus more on homemade, from scratch, southern cooking, rather than quick fix, 5 ingredient, convenience cooking - not that there's anything wrong with that. Those recipes all have their place in southern cooking, and often we southerners are very endeared to some of them, so of course, I have some of those here too! But mostly, when I opened the door to my website, I wanted to feature and highlight some of the old fashioned, scratch cooking recipes that have been pushed aside by convenience and hurry up lives.
My main mission statement from the beginning has also been to recover some of those old recipes that are fast becoming lost recipes - things like Old Fashioned Boiled Salad Dressing, Lazy Daisy Cake, 5 Cup Salad, Copper Pennies, and Pineapple Casserole. This dish of Breaded Tomatoes is definitely one of those and you just don't hear much about it these days. Often served over mashed potatoes or rice, or even grits, it's an old fashioned side dish that dates back many years, to a time where it was important to cheaply, but nutritionally, feed a family, but still fill them up.
Basically a homestyle tomato gravy, but with a much smaller roux and bread added into it, it was sometimes called simply stewed tomatoes since that essentially is exactly how it starts off. I am certain the recipe, as many of the older ones do by design, had to have come from a need to use up food. Nothing went to waste in those days, and this recipe was a great way to feed a family, using an over-abundance of often over-ripened tomatoes, and some day old bread. It would be great with some of those tomatoes you canned over the summer, or even with good ole canned grocery store tomatoes.
Sugar, sometimes white granulated, sometimes brown, sometimes a little, sometimes quite a lot, seems to have been a traditional ingredient, probably because sugar usually does enhance tomatoes. There are some who believe there is no place for sweetness in this old standby dish however. Back in the early days of my blogging, a reader once mentioned these breaded tomatoes, though she said her grandmother never included the sugar. Best test for that will be your taste - taste them and see if you think they would benefit from the sugar.
I also kept these breaded tomatoes pretty much unadorned, but once you try them, you'll probably want to experiment with some seasonings and herbs. A little fresh oregano, basil or flat leaf parsley are all good, as are a wide variety of seasoning mixes, including those intended for dry rubs believe it or not. They add a bit of a smokey flavor to the tomatoes. A couple slices of cooked, chopped bacon added just before you toss in the bread will only make these all the better.
Let's make some!
Heat 2 tablespoons of fat in a large skillet and saute a cup of chopped onion until tender, but not browned. You can use olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, butter or even bacon fat.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter - yes, 2 more if you used butter for your onions.
Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour.
Cooking and stirring the flour in the onion for about 3 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes. I used a pound of fresh tomatoes, skinned then chopped, juices retained, but you can substitute canned for this dish also. If you haven't yet run across one of my favorite summertime kitchen gadgets, what a breeze skinning tomatoes (and peaches) becomes with this one little tool. You'll want about one large can of whole tomatoes that you'll cut up - I just stick the kitchen shears right in the can to chop them - or use two small cans diced. Pour the tomatoes into the onion mixture, juices and all.
Add a tablespoon of granulated or brown sugar, or add it to taste, if you like. If you don't, just leave the sugar out. I'd say taste the tomatoes first and see if it needs a bit of sweetness. Stir that in.
Cook mixture on a low simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust. It's not traditional, but add in some chopped fresh parsley, or other herbs, if you like. Season them how you like.
Toast three slices of plain ole white bread. Leftover stale rolls or biscuits (is there really any such thing?) are also a good stand-in here. To be honest, this also makes a great side dish with the stewed tomatoes cooked strictly on the stovetop all on their own, so omit the bread altogether if you prefer.
Cut the bread into cubes.
Stir the bread squares into the tomato mixture - I forgot to season earlier so I added it here.
Transfer to a buttered baking dish, top with about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese if you like, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour. Serve immediately, alone as a vegetable side dish or served over rice or mashed potatoes. You can also serve this simply stewed right out of the skillet and skip the cheese and the baking step. Goes wonderfully with a variety of casseroles, or with fried fish and mashed potatoes.
Recipe: Scalloped Tomatoes - Old Fashioned Breaded Tomatoes©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 25 min | Yield: About 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons butter, bacon fat, olive, vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup of chopped Vidalia or yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 1 pound of tomatoes, skinned, chopped, juices retained
- 1 tablespoon of light brown or granulated sugar, or to taste, optional
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 5 turns of the pepper grinder
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (basil, flat leaf parsley, etc.), optional
- 3 slices of toasted white bread, cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, optional
- Extra butter, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the fat in a large skillet and saute the onion until tender but not browned. Add butter and melt; stir in the flour, cooking and stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar and low simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Add the bread cubes, season with salt, pepper and herbs; taste and adjust as needed. Transfer to a buttered baking dish, top with about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour. Top individual servings with a pat of butter and serve immediately, alone as a vegetable side dish or served over rice or mashed potatoes. Goes wonderfully with fried fish and mashed potatoes.
Cook's Notes: May also serve this dish right out of the skillet without baking. Just before ready to serve, stir in the toasted bread squares, or place the bread into individual serving dishes and spoon tomatoes over the top. If you have day old rolls or biscuits, use them for this recipe, but break them apart into chunks and toast them first; may also substitute fresh, toasted bread crumbs if preferred.
Okay to substitute 1 large (28 ounce) can of whole tomatoes, chopped, juices retained (use your kitchen shears to chop them right in the can) or 2 (14-1/2 ounce) cans of undrained, diced tomatoes. Omit bread for basic stewed tomatoes.
Experiment with additional seasonings blends, including those intended for dry rubs. They add a bit of a smokey flavor to the tomatoes. A couple slices of cooked, chopped bacon added just before you toss in the bread will only make these all the better.
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