Modern Italian Tomato Recipes

By Stefano Milioni

Last week we featured the first Italian recipes to utilize tomatoes as the main ingredient. This week we move away from the traditional methods and look at some other ways tomatoes are used in Italian cuisine.

Leaving behind the old concept of “thick tomato” sauce, these modern recipes highlight some more exciting ways to use one of Italy’s favorite ingredients.

Sufflé di Pomodori (Tomato Soufflé) Serves 6

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  • 10 ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 lbs 3 oz sweet, meaty tomatoes
  • Basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 2 tbsp Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a pan. Thinly slice the onion and chop the basil leaves. Add them to the pan and brown over low heat. Wash tomatoes, remove seeds and skin and cut into small pieces. As soon as the onion begins to turn a golden color, add tomato pieces. Raise the heat, season with salt and pepper and cook mixture until the tomatoes have been reduced to a thick sauce.

Using the remaining butter, flour and milk, prepare a fairly thick béchamel. When the sauce is smooth and elastic, remove the pan from heat and add salt. Incorporate Parmigiano and Gruyere cheeses into the béchamel along with the tomato sauce and the yolks of the eggs. Blend well. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and delicately fold them into the béchamel.

Smear the bottom and sides of a 1 quart soufflé mold, pour in the mixture and smooth the surface with a spatula. Put in preheated oven and cook at 375 degrees for about an hour.

When the soufflé has risen above the edge of the mold and has turned an attractive golden-brown color, remove from the oven, turn out on a serving dish and serve immediately.

Medaglione di Aragosta con Pomodori e Cipolle
(Medallions of Lobster with Tomato and Onion) 
Serves 6

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  • 6 ½ lbs lobster
  • 9 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 onions
  • 3 medium tomatoes

Cook lobsters in boiling water for 10 minutes. remove from water and let cool. Remove the meat from shells and cut into cubes. Set aside. Remove coral and green matter from the lobsters’ heads and put in a bowl. Mix in oil, mustard and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Blend until a creamy sauce is obtained.

Cut the onions into thin slices and soak in salted water. After 10 minutes, drain and dry the slices. Cut the tomatoes into pieces and combine them with the onion. Arrange the lobster meat on a serving dish with the onions and tomatoes on top. Top with sauce and serve.

Conchiglie, Pomodori e Verze
(Shell Macaroni, Tomatoes and Cabbage) 
Serves 6

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  • 7 oz Savoy cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 6 2/3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 oz ground beef
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 14 oz canned peeled tomatoes
  • 1 level tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ bouillon cube
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1 pinch dried rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lb shell macaroni
  • 3 ½ tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Wash and dry the cabbage and cut into extremely fine strips. Finely chop the onion and lightly brown in a deep frying pan in half of the olive oil. Add the meat and brown lightly while basting it with the wine. When the wine has evaporated entirely add the cabbage and cook over low heat for a few minutes.

Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add to the pan. Mix well. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/8 cup cold water and the ½ bouillon cube in 1/8 cup warm water. Add both to the pan. Add freshly ground pepper and a bit of salt. Finely chop the sage, rosemary and garlic and add to the pan. Cook over low heat with the pan partly covered for about 1 hour, adding a bit of water if necessary.

Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and pour pasta in a large soup bowl. Blend in the remaining oil then the cabbage-meat sauce. Mix carefully, top with grated cheese and serve immediately.

Tegame di Pomodori (Baked Stuffed Tomatoes) Serves 6

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  • 10 tomatoes weighing about 1 lb total
  • ½ cup rice
  • 7 oz Fontina cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cumin
  • 1 sweet pepper
  • Butter

Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Cut off the stalk end of tomatoes and set aside caps. Using a teaspoon, remove as much of the interior as possible without breaking the walls of the tomato.

Arrange tomatoes in an oiled baking dish and sprinkle them with salt. Fill with the following stuffing: rice boiled for 8 minutes and then cooled in a cold water and drained, Fontina cheese cut in small cubes, a pinch of pepper, cumin and salt and a sweet pepper cut into small squares. Melt some butter in a pan and cook briefly, stirring constantly. Fill the tomatoes, cover them with their caps and bake them for about 20 min.

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