Growing up in such a large family, and my mother cooking in mass quantities, there was usually a left over or two.
At the end of the evening, everyone is unwinding. The kitchen all clean and quiet following the craziness which happened only hours earlier. The lights now dim, as if to signify “kitchen closed”. There they were, cooling on the counter, the prized leftovers. All snug in their containers, waiting to be revisited and reinvented into some other fabulous dish.
Now, while I reminisce, I remember, that every time my mother made breaded pork chops, I was sure to get one in my bag lunch the next day at school. I remember being horrified the first time this happened. I opened the bag, and there it was in a Ziplock bag. A pork chop. With it, the other usual lunch items. A slice of buttered bread, some other finger food like chips or something, and of course the ever loving “Ho Ho”, “Ding Dong”, or some other packaged treat. Looking back, that in itself was kind of odd as my mother did not really give us sweets, or soda, or anything like that, but in the lunch, it was OK.
Anyway, I remember pulling that out in front of my friends, and I was somewhat embarrassed. Who does this? I have never seen anyone else have a bone in pork chop that they had to pick up and eat like a pirate. Only me. But, I loved my moms breaded pork chops, and I owned that moment. Funny , it was almost as if the other kids were jealous? What? How could this be? Well. it was never an issue again. Lucky me. My mom’s leftovers rocked.
So, the other day I was browsing through the crate of recipes that I inherited from my mom. I decided that I was going to find some to try. I was looking for beef and potato recipes. Even though she had two files just for potatoes, I figured there might be something in the vegetable file as well.
Going through the recipes, I stumbled upon this scalloped tomato recipe. For some reason it resonated with me. It was so easy, and I thought it would make a lovely side dish. So, I decide to make it. Why not? I have the ingredients on hand, well, kind of. I guess it’s time to make it my own.
So, the recipe called for a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. Well, I didn’t have whole tomatoes. I was very tempted to use fresh, but thought, lets do the recipe as it is and see how it goes. Instead of the canned whole tomatoes, I have two 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (in some sort of Italian seasoning). I figure one extra ounce can’t mess it up, so I proceed.
The original recipe said to take the tomatoes from the can and gently squeeze to release some of the juices. So, I decide to just dump mine in a strainer, as I wanted to add a little liquid back into mine during the cooking process.
The next step was to prepare an oven proof dish, by buttering it. I did a little butter and some olive oil. After allowing the tomatoes to sit for a while I placed them into the dish. I sprinkle with some sugar, and a little salt and pepper.
Next, the recipe called for a small onion finely diced and some chopped parsley. So, I finely diced half of a larger size onion (estimated a small onion) and grabbed a good handful of parsley to chop.
I heat a pan with a little olive oil . I add the onion and let that saute for a few minutes. I add a little salt and pepper, then some white wine. About a half cup or so. I continue to simmer and reduce the liquid. When the liquid is reduced (nearly gone) I add the parsley, I taste for seasoning, then spread it over the tomatoes.
Now to make the topping. seasoned bread crumbs. I put some butter and olive oil into the same pan that I cooked the onions in. When the butter and oil is melted and bubbly, I put in about a cup or so of bread crumbs (I used Panko, it was easy) I season it with a little salt, pepper, and the slightest amount of granulated garlic, and I sprinkle that all over the top of the tomatoes and onions. Into a 350 degree oven to bake until it is golden brown and bubbly.
Nice little side dish. I will make it again.
So, now onto the second act…..the left overs. I had about half a pan of the tomatoes left over. The next day, I imagined how good this would taste on some crostini. So, I decide to cut some bread, season it with salt, pepper, and a pinch of granulated garlic, I place that in the toaster oven, just for a few minutes. Then I top it with some shredded Parmesan, and continue to bake it in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted. Then I pile on some of the tomatoes, crumbs and all, and continue to bake in the toaster oven until browned and crispy. I topped it with a poached egg, and there you have it, the second act completed. This was as good or better than the original…..
But wait…..is there a third act? Why yes, there is……. I’m going to use the remaining tomatoes to top a flat bread pizza…. Yup.
These are super easy to make. I start with a “Flatzza” flat bread made by Angelic Bake house.
I decide to make a garlic sauce for the base, and I have my roasted chicken from the market, and I pull apart the dark meat. I grate some fresh mozzarella and keep that to the side. and I have the remaining tomatoes out and at room temperature now.
I take the flat bread and give it an even coat of the garlic – cheese, sauce (which is simply a bechamel with garlic and Parmesan cheese) . Next I place the shreds of chicken meat (dark meat) on top of the sauce. Then I sprinkle it with the mozzarella, then with the tomatoes, crumbs and all. I bake it at 400 degrees until it is brown and bubbly. But wait! Not finished. I decide to top it with a lightly dressed mix of greens, oh yeah. I started out eating it with a fork, but eventually just picked the darn thing up and ate it like any other pizza slice. One recipe, three ways. Thanks mom! Thanks for making me “fear not” the leftovers 🙂
There was actually one more leftover meal from this whole episode. The following day, with a slice of the flat bread pizza left, I rewarmed it and of course topped it with my eggs. The End.
Recipe recap: (Original)
Preheat the oven at 400 degrees
1 28-oz. can of whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained
4 TB butter divided, plus 1 tsp or so for the baking dish
1 tsp sugar
1 small onion finely diced
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 c fresh bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper
Melt 1 TB butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced onion. Saute for a minute or two, add the parsley and cook until soft about another 8 minutes or so.
Lightly butter a baking dish. Take your drained tomatoes and gently squeeze them to release some of the liquid. Arrange in prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the 1 tsp of sugar.
Scatter onions and parsley over the tomatoes and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Toss the bread crumbs with the remaining 3 TB of butter, melted.
Bake until browned and bubbling (about 20 minutes or so)