The title of my column this week is ‘Breaded Tomatoes’, however with a bit of historical searching, more is revealed. Somewhere around the 1840’s ’Tomato Pudding’ made its’ appearance, in the culinary world. Head south my friends, many refer to it as the lost classic of the south. For years it was the main side for the Thanksgiving Turkey! Everyone dug into this yummy casserole and it was usually first to disappear, on the buffet.
Some say the original recipe contained a small amount of orange juice and candied ginger. This doesn’t sound to delicious to this rural gal, but then again, I haven’t tried it. There’s also conversation that it’s sinful to put any cheese in it whatsoever, because it simply doesn’t need it. (Mine has a small amount.)
In the old days you opened a can of stewed tomatoes and stirred in salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, often brown sugar. Then you added toasted buttered bread, stirring it to blend. It would fill you up and make a meal, cheap!
If you’re wondering what got me going on ‘Breaded Tomatoes’ again (last time was 2017) it was eating out this past weekend. I took my friend, Lucy, on a little road trip this past Saturday going to little country restaurant, I often visit. On the menu, as a side, was the breaded tomatoes. I had enjoyed them at this location once before and found them super runny, and low in taste. This time, yummy, still soupy, but delicious. I told my friend how much I wished my dad, Jerry, was along. Of course, the presentation has spurred me to make a dish at home this week.
In my research this week there was interesting conversation about the ‘tomato pudding’ and ‘breaded pineapple casserole’. The two have truly been hidden for years. Within my family they are two of my favorite dishes. As Easter approaches the ham dinner just wouldn’t be without the scalloped pineapple.
I usually use a pint of home canned tomatoes, as you can see from this recipe, but 2 cups of stewed fresh tomatoes will work. Or, you can purchase them from the store.
The bread used in this dish is usually ‘cheap’ white bread. I know that whole wheat is good for us, but this is one dish I just won’t change out. For me it’s a bit like a BLT, or a grilled cheese sandwich, you just must have white bread.
I have implemented parmesan cheese. There’s lots of reason to consider a modification here. Parmesan ranks at the top when the sodium content is reviewed. So, perhaps Havarti or smoked Gouda might be a good substitute. If you are not into more specialty cheeses try a white cheddar cheese or plain yellow cheddar if absolutely necessary. When I was a youngster mother never put cheese in her breaded tomatoes. This is something to enhance the dish just a bit more.
If you feel that the heavy cream is just too much, feel free to pull back to milk. BUT if you want to make a good impression use the cream, use the cream, use the cream!!!
Enjoy the week friends, I hope you can make time to try this simple dish. Don’t skimp on the bread or the recipe will be too runny.
Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
2-3 tablespoons salted butter
1 small onion, diced fine
1 pint or (15.5 oz.) can of chopped tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup salsa, (I use homemade.)
6-8 slices while bread, dried and broken into pieces
1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste-
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with vegetable spray or consider using a deep dish pie pan. Sauté the onions in the butter until tender. In a mixing bowl place all ingredients; leaving the cream until last. Pour mix into greased pan and bake until the dish is firm and set. It should be slightly brown on top and a bit puffy. The time could vary from 40 minutes to close to an hour for baking, depending upon your oven.
Options: Consider a different cheese for less sodium and calorie content. Add garlic, chopped celery, green peppers or basil. Half and Half or milk could be used instead of heavy cream.