This post is part of the Food Matters Project, a cooking collaboration among participating bloggers. Each week, we will cook a recipe from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, which places an emphasis on mindful and sustainable eating. Follow along with us!
When I decided to take on this week’s FMP recipe chosen by Nicole of The Giving Table, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Savory Tomato Crisp? I’m most familiar with dessert fruit crisps, but since tomatoes are botanically considered fruits, the recipe should still work…right?
You’re probably thinking (as I did) that this has got to be one of the blandest recipes ever. And to all you tomato haters out there, I’m sure you’re cringing at the thought of a savory tomato crisp in your mouths. But I won’t be criticizing Mr. Bittman’s choice of ingredients for this recipe. No way! In fact, Mr. Bittman teaches us a valuable culinary lesson with his tomato crisp: simple is not necessarily boring. Pay attention, my tomato-hating friends, as this recipe may just convert you!
The original recipe calls for ingredients that you probably already have on hand in your garden and pantry: tomatoes, olive oil, cornstarch, breadcrumbs, rolled oats, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and (my favorite) chopped pecans. While this sounds like a good start, I decided to appease my spice-loving taste buds by adding tomato-loving spices: Italian seasoning, garlic powder (which contributes another layer of garlic flavor) and minced shallots. And next time I make it, I just might add some fresh mozzarella slices for more cheesy goodness. The result of this go-round? A light and crispy Italian side dish with a flavor slightly reminiscent of pizza.
If you’ve grown tired of having a typical salad as a side dish, this will easily complement any food you’re serving. Going Greek? Use feta cheese crumbles and fresh herbs like parsley or oregano instead of Parmesan and Italian seasoning. In the mood for Mexican? Replace the seasoning with cumin & fresh cilantro. Having Japanese? Try adding a dash of yuzu or rice vinegar and replace the breadcrumbs with panko for a tempura-esque side dish. Whichever version you choose, you’re in for a healthy treat that’s perfect for a summer brunch or dinner.
And the moral of this tomato crisp story is…Don’t judge a tomato by its cover. (Unless, of course, it’s covered in breadcrumbs, seasoning, and cheesy goodness. Then dig in!) Check out other tasty tomato takes at The Food Matters Project.
Brynn Cahalan is a senior at UC Irvine who believes the power of spices and fresh herbs can go a long way when preparing any meal. She loves incorporating spices and herbs into her quick and healthy recipes at wikiKitchen.
Savory Tomato Crisp
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (4-5 medium), cored and cut into wedges
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, preferably whole grain and homemade
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Grease a 5-inch square or round baking dish or a deep pie plate with oil; heat oven to 375°F.
Put the tomato wedges in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the cornstarch and some salt and pepper. Toss gently and let the mixture sit while you complete the next step. In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs, oats, pecans, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, shallots, garlic, cheese, and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Toss the tomato mixture again and transfer it to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb topping. Bake until the crisp is as dark as you like on top and bubbly underneath, 45-55 minutes (If the crumb topping browns too quickly, cover with foil). Let cool until warm or room temperature before serving. To serve, scoop portions out with a large spoon.