Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tomato-Potato Bake. A Semi-Success.

I don't even bother with fresh tomatoes when they're not in season, but I make up for it in the summer by eating them nearly every day. I don't even bother with trying to think of innovative ways to eat tomatoes--give me a tomato sandwich slathered with mayo every day for a whole summer and I won't complain. They're just that tasty.

I made this dish last summer and it came out smelling and tasting okay, but the potatoes were undercooked and not the right type--I used waxy ones and not floury ones. So I made some changes this time around. I used russet potatoes and I partially cooked them first by boiling them for about 20 minutes. Then, I let them cool, peeled them, and sliced them.

I made a bread crumb mixture of one slice of whole wheat bread, 1/4 cup of grated special blend cheese from Nick's Produce, and some fresh ground pepper, and set it aside. I picked a handful of fresh basil from the yard and saved that in a little pile. Then, I sliced two big tomatoes and 2 big potatoes into 1/4" slices. Finally, I thinly sliced a small onion.

I sprayed an 8" square baking pan with non-stick olive oil spray. Then I layered the tomatoes and potatoes in alternate rows, sort of fish scale style. I don't think it much matters how you alternate them. Over the maties and the taties went a scattering of onion slices, fresh ground pepper, 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of the bread crumb mixture. Now, I scattered a layer of fresh basil leaves, and then I repeated the taties, maties, onions and mozzarella again. Toppped it with the remainder of the breadcrumb mixture, and popped it in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

It looked and smelled great! In the interest of creating something healthy, I chose low fat cheese and didn't add any fat to the recipe. Next time I make this, it will have some taste improvements:

There's not enough fat in this recipe to carry the flavors. I would drizzle some olive oil over it before baking, add some garlic, some salt, and maybe use a stronger flavored cheese than mozzarella, like even a full-fat sharp cheddar. The texture and look and smell were all wonderful. It was completely edible and reasonably yummy--the flavor just fell a bit short. But this blog is all about success, failure and learning. And trash talk and gossip.

Despite the dinner being less than perfect, we were not deterred from eating the whole thing, so no food was wasted at our house tonight. I'll just up the workout next time, so I can up the fat and flavor.


debra said...

black pepper? oops I don't remember if you used any,but I love it on most savory dishes...also, you could try sea salt instead of regular salt. Sea salt actually does have a different but YUMMY taste from table salt. ooooo....I'm "hongry"

JB said...

That looks crazy good - I will be moving soon and cooking once again - I think I will make your pesto first!

Passionate Eater said...

Wow, tomatoes and potatoes are such a wonderful and unique combination. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Yum, I am going to go have a chilled tomato salad now.