Tomatoes with Grape Juice (Pomodori con l'Uva)
Source: Joyce Goldstein
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on September 21, 2012.
I found a reference to this dish in Milka Belgrado Passigli’s book of Jewish recipes, in which fresh grape juice is poured over fried tomatoes while they are still warm. The dish was originally made with tart red wine grapes (agresto). But, as most of us do not have easy access to a vineyard, supermarket table grapes are what we’ll have to use. These tend to be sweeter rather than tart, so to approximate the acidity, it’s best to add a bit of balsamic vinegar to the juices to accentuate the tartness. Look for Zante grapes, dark wine grapes, or any black or red seedless grapes. If grapes are not in season, use bottled grape must (verjus) mixed with a bit of balsamic vinegar.
I added the cornmeal to the flour for a crunchier texture. The original recipe fried finely chopped garlic and rosemary along with the tomatoes, but they burned too quickly and tasted acrid. So I added the rosemary to the flour and smashed the garlic to flavor the oil. Note that you can make this recipe with green tomatoes, too.
1 small bunch dark grapes (about 1 cup)
1 to 2 tablespoons verjus or balsamic vinegar, if needed
All-purpose flour and yellow cornmeal, in equal parts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
6 firm but almost ripe tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1. Purée the grapes in a blender, then strain the juices into a bowl. Season with verjus or balsamic vinegar if the grapes are too sweet.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and rosemary on a plate, mixing well. Dip the tomato slices in the mixture, coating on both sides. Pour a little olive oil into a large nonstick frying pan, just enough to create a film on the bottom. Add the garlic and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tomato slices and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 6 minutes.
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, using a spatula, transfer to a serving plate. Pour the grape juices over the hot tomatoes. Serve at once.