Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scalloped Tomatoes - Old Fashioned Breaded (Stewed) Tomatoes

Old fashioned breaded fresh tomatoes, known also as scalloped tomatoes or tomato pudding, 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 Tomatoes

Sadly, it's the time of year where we begin to 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 too, 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.

First things first. 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 also 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 dating back to 2009, 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.

One of my other missions from the beginning has also been to recover some of those older, more vintage 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.

Since the inception of my recipe website, there have been tons more of recipe bloggers arrive on the scene, so thankfully they are helping to revive these recipes too, though often they are revamped and adjusted and that's okay too.

This dish of Stewed Tomatoes is definitely one of those vintage recipes 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.

Hang on to your hats folks because we well may be heading back to that unfortunately.

Often called tomato pudding, and basically a homestyle tomato gravy, but with a much smaller roux and bread added into it, it was sometimes also simply called 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, leftover tomatoes from canning, 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 when summer tomatoes are out of season.

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 sugar. Best test for that will be your taste - taste them and see if you think they would benefit from a little sugar. Sometimes fresh tomatoes can be very sweet and other times, more bitter.

I also kept these breaded stewed 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 get busy and make some!

Heat 2 tablespoons of fat in a large skillet and sauté 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. 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 can certainly substitute canned for this dish also if that's all you have on hand. 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.

If you love tomatoes, you will love this dish!

Check out more of my recipes with tomatoes on Pinterest!

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Posted by on October 15, 2011
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