I'm calling this Green Tomato Parmesan. Why? Because I used green tomatoes. Duh, Michele.
It works like this. There are some people who don't like eggplant. I can't hardly blame them. If done wrong, or even if done right, eggplant can be bitter. With this thought in mind I pondered the idea of what to use in it's stead. Then it came to me.
They are firm enough.
They are meaty enough.
They are easy to come by.
The perfect food for a casserole!
And let's face it folks, Eggplant Parmesan is a casserole.
As most of you know decent totally ripe tomatoes are difficult to come by in the winter and barely passable in the summer until the season starts. So are we confined to nasty hard as rock tomatoes? Must we use canned tomatoes 9 months out of the year? I say no. Let's make that that, Hell's NO!
In the tradition of It's a Dog's Life recipe adaptation I tried this out on the family first. They seem to be the ultimate taste testers. Mostly, because they'll eat anything as long as they don't have to make it. They love it when I experiment on them.
Just ask them.
No wait, don't.
Anyway, I made this on Sunday and got 6 thumbs up. Two from each of us. Not all 6 from one of us..that would be weird. Sure, we can be weird at times but that's more of a mental thing.
Green Tomato Parmesan
3 green or not ripe tomatoes. These need to be really hard. Unfortunately, these are not hard to find at your local grocery store.
1 jar of marinara sauce, yep, store brand is good.
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 box whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped = optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large fry pan.
Slice tomatoes really thick. About 1/2 inch. Out of 1 medium tomato you should get 3 full slices.
Make a 3 plate dredging station. 1 with the flour. 1 with the 2 eggs beaten. And 1 with the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Coat the tomatoes on both sides in that order. I'd use one hand to do this because it will be messy so why get both hands dirty. Don't you love the fact that I didn't clean the place up for you? It's because you're family. I don't show these kinds of messes to just anyone, ya know.
Fry each dredged tomato slice in the hot oil until golden brown. (Ya like my new cast iron fry pan? I just got it on Saturday. I'm in the process of seasoning it. I will have pictures and directions on how to do this coming up this week. You will never need any of those Teflon pans ever again. A well seasoned cast iron pan is a beautiful thing)
Take 1/2 cup pasta sauce and spread it in the bottom of a 9 X 9 casserole dish. Place 4 of the golden brown and yummy tomato slices in the bottom. Sprinkle each slice with half the remaining Parmesan, 1/2 the mozzarella, and 1/2 the Gruyere cheese. Put a couple of tablespoons of sauce on each tomato slice. Place another tomato slice on top and repeat the cheese and sauce thing. Just stack it up!
It should look something like this. Spray some cooking spray on some aluminum foil. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
After 25 minutes start your pasta water. Cook pasta as directed. Take the casserole out after 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes while you finish cooking and draining the pasta.
Serve the tomato stacks on top of a mess o'pasta. Sprinkle with fresh basil and Parmesan. Isn't that purty? As my buddy Julie would say..... I'd eat that.
Serves 6. Seriously! A half a stack was all any of us could eat. It was that filling.
Totally something I'll make again! And again.
Why will I make it again? Because while I love eggplant The Boy is not as enthusiastic about it but he does love tomatoes.
I hope you'll consider making this. Oh and it will make an awesome Meatless Monday dinner. We'll be having leftovers.