Finally getting back around to the epic battle of tomato before tomato season is over for another year. After I scrapped the idea of doing BLT sliders for my lunch plate because I didn’t want to over-use bacon, I decided to try something that would use the slices of tomato as a structuring agent rather than bread.
Although "napoleon" used to refer exclusively to a dessert composed of layers of puff pastry and pastry cream (or whipped cream), it’s being used now to refer to anything with repetitive layers of differing textures—i.e. more layers than a "sandwich" and more differentiated than layers of gelatin or lasagna. From what I can tell from watching competitive cooking on television (and not as a substitute for cooking either—I so wish the Balzer data Pollan was ranting about in the NYT a few weeks ago had accounted for traditional indicators of social class and suspect that many people watching food television are actually cooking but that’s a topic for another post), napoleons usually have at least three layers of whatever’s playing the roll of the puff pastry and at least two layers of semi-solid filling.
The layers were already a given. For the filling, I decided on a mayonnaise-based crab salad because I knew I had seen crab-stuffed tomatoes on menus and tomatoes love mayonnaise almost as much as they love salt. And indeed, I thought the combination worked really well. I’ll definitely make the salad again, perhaps to use as a sandwich or wrap filling when tomatoes are out of season. Recipes and instructions for making fried tomato skins after the jump, now that jumps are working. Yay for jumps.
Recipe: Crab salad napoleons, adapted from allrecipes.com
(for 6 servings, but easily scaled)
- 6 medium-to-large tomatoes
- 1 lb crab—lump or canned, or a surimi product (like imitation krab)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 shallots diced
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 T. sour cream
- 2-3 T. chopped fresh dill
- 1 t. Old Bay seasoning
- 2-3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Core the tomatoes and cut each one into four slices horizontally.
Drain crab and check for cartilage and shell fragments. Combine with remaining ingredients.
Spread a few tablespoons of salad between the layers of tomato and garnish with a sprig of dill.
I served the napoleons with a side salad of fresh greens tossed with a roasted tomato vinaigrette that I can eat by the spoonful I love it so much, goat cheese, diced kalmata olives, and fried tomato skins.
The fried tomato skins were a sort of experiment. I knew I was going to blanch and skin the tomatoes for my soup course and decided that rather than throw them out, I should try to do something with them. Points for creative use of ingredient and all that. So I tossed them in some flour seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried them until golden brown in some hot olive oil, and gave them another sprinkle of salt just after frying. Tomato skins don’t have a ton of flavor, but it’s hard to go wrong with fried flour and salt—they were a hit. I would do it again if I ever, ever bothered to blanche and peel tomatoes when I cook at home.
The easiest way to get nice big pieces of tomato skins is to cut an "x" on the bottom of your tomatoes before blanching them in boiling water for about 1 min. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water, and then you should be able to remove each tomato skin in four big pieces.
Recipe: Roasted tomato vinaigrette, from Erik Markoff
- 8 roma tomatoes
- 1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup + 1 T. olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F. Halve the tomatoes and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pour about 1 T. olive oil over them and toss gently to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes.
Puree roasted tomatoes with remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.