Pan-Fried Tomatoes with a Cornmeal Crust
In the American South cornmeal is often used to coat oysters, catfish, and chicken before frying them, but this dish, with its crunchy exterior and red-ripe, smooth tomato inside, becomes very Mediterranean. It would be a waste to use extra virgin olive oil for frying the tomatoes, but regular olive oil will impart more flavor than plain vegetable oil.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Recipe Courseside dish, tapas/small plates
Dietary Considerationside dish, tapas/small plates
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturecrisp, crunchy, juicy, savory
Type of Dishvegetable
- 9 large ripe but firm plum tomatoes (about 1¾ pounds)
- ½ cup polenta or coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
SLICE THE TOMATOES crosswise about ½ inch thick. Discard or eat the very top and bottom slices. Mix the polenta, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and parsley in a shallow soup bowl and dredge the tomato slices evenly in the mixture, pressing the coating to make it stick to the cut surfaces of the tomatoes.
IN A LARGE HEAVY NONSTICK SKILLET, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is very hot but not smoking. Add as many tomato slices as you can without crowding the pan, and sauté for about 3 minutes. Turn the slices to the other side and sauté for another 3 minutes, or until golden. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkle with salt, and keep warm in a low oven while you finish frying the other tomatoes. Serve warm.
1997 Brigit Legere Binns