Everyday Food (September 2012)
Is it possible to simultaneously both believe in "light" cooking and not believe in "light" takes on fried foods?
We think that's where we stand. We're all for lightening a diet, and we do it all the time. Yes, we sometimes post aboout decadent dishes, but when we're not cooking for the blog, we eat a simple, sane diet: lots of vegetables and protein, healthy snacks, light breakfasts and lunches, and dinners that are calorie conscious.
Sure, we indulge (see: yesterday's lunch at Shake Shack, preceded by really decadent dinners on both Friday night and Saturday night, not to mention a Saturday afternoon snack). But we balance that indulgence with relatively measured eating (see: low-cal lunches every day last week).
But we totally understand the impulse and popularity of light takes on fried foods. We all want to eat whatever we want to eat. And sometimes, we want to eat what's bad for us, so we look for ways to do that without going overboard.
The problem is, these faux-fried recipes are so rarely successful. And these Not-Fried Tomatoes fall into that category.
We're no strangers to disappointing "fried" foods (we're looking at you, Crispy Baked "Fried Chicken"). Like similar dishes before them, these Not-Fried Tomatoes are by no means bad, they're just not good. Largely, our problem is that they taste like tomatoes and cornflakes. We love those ingredients on their own. Together? It's an odd clash of flavors.
Another issue is the texture of the tomatoes. Because these are baked in the oven for 15 minutes and not fried, the tomatoes get soft and mushy. In other dishes, that wouldn't be a problem. But here, it makes for a very limp "fried" tomato.
We'll take the blame for the fact that the cornflakes didn't stick to the tomatoes as much as they should have. If we had this to do over again, we would have crushed our cornflakes much smaller. We suspect that's one reason they didn't adhere to the tomatoes as well as we would have liked.
If you make these, do as the recipe suggests and serve them with ranch dressing. You will no doubt love them. A thick layer of ranch can improve nearly anything. But if you're gonna eat that, why not just have an honest-to-goodness fried tomato?
Notes From Zach and Clay of The Bitten Word:
- Err toward crushing your cornflakes very small so they adhere more easily to the tomatoes.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Ingredients1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups cornflakes, crushed
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds firm tomatoes (any color), cut into 1/4-inch rounds
Lemon wedges or ranch dressing, for serving
DirectionsPreheat oven to 425 degrees. Place wire racks in rimmed baking sheets. Place flour, eggs, and cornflakes in three separate shallow dishes and season each with salt and pepper. Stir cayenne into flour mixture. Coat each tomato slice first in flour, then eggs, then cornflakes, pressing lightly to adhere. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on racks and bake until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Serve with lemon wedges or ranch dressing.
Firm, tangy green tomatoes are really just underripe regular tomatoes, which soften when cooked. They're the traditional choice for a crisp coating, but we also used red and yellow ones in this recipe for a colorful mix.