Last year, my husband and I came home from the Farmer’s Market with a bag full of delicious heirloom tomatoes. Problem was, we hadn’t planned on what to DO with them yet. So one night Mr. Man threw together a delicious and quick dinner that I think has to be the greatest thing we’ve ever tasted in this house (aside from Haag’n Daas Rocky Road ice cream). The tomatoes are soft on the inside and bursting with their rich, ripe flavor and then coated with a crisp and flavorful breading on the outside. To top it off, the noodles are smothered in fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, breadcrumbs, and olive oil—making it both flavor and texture heaven.
Fast forward to this summer, when we were delighted to finally see heirloom tomatoes at our farmer’s market. We grabbed a bag and knew EXACTLY what to do. That night, we got a last-minute call from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law that they wanted to stop by to borrow our car. Since it was around dinner time, I wanted to make something for all of us—something special. So of course I made this. My sis in law went CRAZY over it. She said, “You just HAVE to post about this so I can pin this!” So, upon request, here is my hubby’s amazing Breaded Heirloom Tomato Pasta recipe (this one’s for you, Maci! And here’s your pin-it button: ).
The dish may look complicated, but I timed it and it took NO MORE than 30 minutes. Plus the neat thing is it is vegetarian and inexpensive*
I then set up a dredging station. On the left is flour seasoned with salt and pepper, in the middle is milk, on the right are bread crumbs. I PREFER using panko. Second choice is blended croutons. Third choice (seen here) are Italian bread crumbs (but these are still awesome!):
Dip the tomato slice in the flour and shake off extra flour. You will have to be careful the tomato doesn’t fall apart, especially if the tomato is super ripe. Then dip it in the milk:
Next up, a bath in bread crumbs:
Then back to the milk and then back to the breadcrumbs (it reminds me of a kid running from the pool to the spa to the pool to the spa). Just like swimming…..this step only serves to make the experience MORE awesome.
Here they are all breaded. Look at them, they are about to get more awesome and they don’t even know it:
Just pour some olive oil in a pan (enough to cover the bottom) and fry the tomatoes at medium high heat. Flip and fry on other side too. Take out when golden and crispy. It takes a mere minutes. I recommend using a spatula to get them out of a pan—tongs tear the tomatoes apart.
Once the tomatoes are out, you then add 2 cloves of garlic to the pan and cook for a little bit, then add cooked pasta noodles (I prefer the spaghetti noodles that have a hole down the middle, like a bucatini, but regular spaghetti works too). This step is so important—the pasta gets coated in all that leftover breading and oil, giving the noodles a wonderful texture and flavor.
When you slice the tomatoes, there will be parts that fall apart or the parts around the stem. Do not, for all that is good and holy, throw these away!!! Chop these up and throw them in at the very end, along with some fresh basil, garlic salt (to taste), and pepper. Oh and see all that yummy juice on the cutting board? Use that too!
Cook the pasta and unbreaded tomatoes long enough to lightly warm the tomatoes (less than a minute). Give it a taste and see if it needs any extra love. Then put pasta in bowl and top with shaved parmesan and the breaded tomatoes. And then WOW your guests!
Heirloom Tomato Pasta
Time: 30 minutes
1/2 – 1 pound cooked spaghetti noodles (I boil the noodles while preparing the tomatoes)
5-7 heirloom tomatoes
2 cups bread crumbs (panko preferred)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
Garlic salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Shaved parmesan to taste
Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Dredge in flour, milk, bread crumbs and dip back into milk and breadcrumbs. Pan fry with olive oil over medium high heat. Remove tomatoes from pan. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes, then add cooked pasta, basil, and tomatoes leftover from cutting. Stir and then add garlic salt and pepper to taste. Put in bowl and top pasta with shaved parmesan and the breaded tomato slices.
*The tomatoes cost me $6, which is kind of a lot for just a VEG (errr, fruit), right? Well, the cool thing is that since there is no meat in this to jack up the price, the dish really comes out to under $10 and serves at least four.