Italian Baked Tomatoes

I haven’t had a garden in a few years, but my son had one .I had banana peppers, grape tomatoes, zucchini and squash from his garden and my next-door neighbor has been supplying me with loads of homegrown tomatoes and bell peppers all season. Yesterday I received the last batch as she gleaned her plants, and they are the most darling small tomatoes I have seen. I am going to make my mother’s baked tomatoes

and freeze them for when my cousin and family are here for the Thanksgiving holiday. Even though my cousin is from my Italian side, neither of our mothers married Italians, and neither did we, but our husbands and families all enjoy real Italian food. Which leads me to this story:

Just before World War Two one of my aunts and her husband left their hometown in Pennsylvania to seek their fortune in Washington, DC. Soon after the war began, my mother followed and found not only work but also a fiancé’. Just as the war came to a close, the married aunt and her husband, my mother and the youngest sisters, (one was the visiting cousin’s mother), took the man who was to be my father up for Thanksgiving to meet the family.
When he arrived, many people had gathered and,( according to him), there was food everywhere…breads, salads, molded salads, vegetables, pastries, cakes and the biggest bowl of spaghetti he had ever seen! It took him a moment, but, of course, they were Italian, so spaghetti for Thanksgiving made sense to him …and he ate…and he ate.
My mother’s spaghetti sauce was magical, (and you will be hearing more about it; recipes for sauce will be in future posts), but her mother’s was supposedly even better. My grandmother was so pleased that my mother brought home a tall, lean man with broad shoulders who could eat! He kept pace with my Italian uncles but after some time, the dishes cleared, and out came a huge turkey with all the trimmings! He couldn’t believe that anyone could eat any more, let alone his thin fiancée and her equally thin sisters.
As I once read: Italians don’t understand that other people don’t eat their body weight at every meal’.

As last year, the cousins will join not only us, but my sons, their children, wife and girlfriend, (only one for each, of course!), plus my brother, my sister, her daughters, her son-in-law and teenage grandson for Thanksgiving Day. Many of us will be spending time and meals together throughout the weekend. Because of the numbers of people with varying tastes, and food allergies, we will have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at my sister’s and then buffet meals will be here and there at varying times, with me carting food there, serving food here, and generally having a ball!

I had made Chicken Parmesan for my cousins last year and they loved my sauce. I promised them stuffed shells this year, using the same homemade sauce. I will post the recipe within the next week or so , but today, I will leave you with the baked tomato

Baked Tomatoes

(The tomatoes can be any size, just make sure that they are all approximately equal in size so they cook evenly. The amount of mixture needed will vary.)

6 Medium tomatoes
1 Cup dried bread crumbs
2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1Tbsp. garlic granules, or 1 heaping Tbsp. garlic powder,(not garlic salt)
1 Cup oil, (pref. regular olive oil)

Mix the breadcrumbs, salt and herbs… (Taste the mixture; it should be strong. If it is not, add more salt and herbs. If you find it strong, add a small amount more of the breadcrumbs).
Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and discard. Turn the tomatoes up-side-down and squeeze lightly to remove the juice and seeds. Place a little oil in the bottom of a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish, (a pie plate will do.) Stand the tomatoes upright and fill with the breadcrumb mixture. If you spill any into the dish, it is fine ;( it is rather tasty.)
Drench the tomatoes with the oil. Start out slowly; you may want to make a slight depression in the filling, as the oil does not want to penetrate the breadcrumbs. Bake in a 375F oven, basting occasionally for approx. 40 minutes or until very done. Serve hot.

Quick version:
Use Italian seasoning in the breadcrumbs.
Quicker version:
Use Italian breadcrumbs.
But I warn you, neither of these will come out as good.

Because of the cost of out-of-season tomatoes and the fact that they just are not as good, my mother made these only in the summer. I have skipped making these many summers because it was too hot to put my wall oven on and fight the air conditioner. It took me until this past Spring to develop the idea of making this:

Baked Tomato Casserole

1 Large (28 oz) and 1 Medium (15 oz) cans of Italian plum tomatoes, drained
(or 3 Medium)

1 ½ cups dry bread crumbs
2 ½ Tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. salt
1 ½ Tbsp.dried basil
1 heaping Tbsp. garlic granules or 1 ½ Tbsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
¾ -I cup of vegetable oil, preferably olive (regular.)

Oil the bottom of a casserole dish and layer the drained tomatoes in the bottom. Mix the dry ingredients and spread them evenly over the tomatoes. Make small depressions over the tomatoes and gently pour the oil over the breadcrumb mixture to saturate. Bake in a 375F oven for about 45 minutes. Serve warm.


8 thoughts on “Italian Baked Tomatoes

  1. tonettejoyce Post author

    Which is why, some years,I couldn’t bring myself not to eat them all fresh; and didn’t even try to beat the heat! Now we can have our tomatoes and eat them, too!


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