This recipe for scalloped tomatoes is very old. It is a good recipe to make if you have a batch of tomatoes that need to be used up before they become overly ripe. In winter home or commercial canned tomatoes can be used with equal success. It is a tasty side dish that can be served with any type of meat and potato meal or with a vegetarian meal.
I first tasted this in the 1970s. The lady that gave it to me, who was in her 80s at the time, said the recipe was one her mother had prepared often. I found very few recipes for scalloped tomatoes in old cookbooks.
Tomatoes are native to South America and can be found growing wild in some of the countries today. After the Spanish colonized the Americas the tomato and its cultivation was introduced to the rest of the world. The tomato was first written about in 1544 in an herbal written by an Italian physician and botanist. He called it the golden apple. It is thought by historians that the variety of tomato first brought to Europe was yellow and the size of the modern cherry tomato.
Today I discovered the reason current garden and commercial tomato varieties don’t taste the same as those grown by our mothers and grandmothers. It is because the varieties cultivated today were developed in the mid 20th. century to ripen to a uniform red. The old varieties always had a band of green at the stem end and they took longer to ripen which resulted in a sweeter tomato that contained more flavor.
This recipe will serve 4 to 6 people.
- 3 cups of canned, un-drained or fresh stewed tomatoes
- ¼ cup of butter
- 4 cups of course soft bread crumbs (roughly torn bread with crusts removed)
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ¾ teaspoon of black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of nutmeg or allspice
Butter a 9x9x2 inch baking or casserole pan. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. approximately 10 minutes before baking.
Prepare the bread crumbs, put in a bowl and set aside. Measure out 1 cup of the crumbs and mix with a few tablespoons of melted butter, set aside for the topping.
Put the tomatoes, canned or fresh and cooked, plus the liquid into a sauce pan. Add the butter and cook over medium heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the stove. Mix in 3 cups of crumbs, the sugar, the salt, the pepper and the spice.
Pour the tomato mixture into the buttered pan. Level and sprinkle the reserved buttered crumbs over the top. You can lightly sprinkle some more of the spice over the crumbs.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 40 or 45 minutes or until it is lightly browned and set in the middle. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving. It will serve 4 to 6 people.
If you are using fresh tomatoes wash, remove the stem end, peel, and chop. The easy way to peel a tomato is to cut a small x in the blossom end after removing the stem, drop them into a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and put into a bowl of ice water. Slip off the peel beginning at the x. The peel will slip right off. To stew the tomatoes, cook the tomatoes with enough water to cover until they come to a boil then lower the heat and simmer covered. Add more water if needed while cooking and stir once in a while. Cook until they are tender.
The same recipe can be cooked on the stove top, minus the crumb and spice topping. Cook over medium low heat until it is as thick as you want.
For a more savory side dish, omit the sugar and spice, add a half cup of diced onion and perhaps a large diced green pepper, some diced chilies or chili powder and top with grated cheese during the last few minutes of baking.