By Michael Nolan
Forget the ice cream and potato chips, any true southerner will tell you that the common bond between most comfort foods is the tomato.
Whether you fry ‘em when they’re green or slice ‘em when they’re ripe, tomatoes are one of the mainstays of the southern kitchen, a place where real comfort food is born. What follows are two of my personal favorites.
Macaroni and Tomatoes
When I was growing up one of my favorite dishes was also one of the most simple to make. It was called “Macaroni and Tomatoes”, and to be honest, no recipe is needed — except for Michelle whose family refers to all varieties of pasta as macaroni.
The way it has always been done in my family is to parboil an 8 oz. package of macaroni (that’s the little elbow-type pasta, Michelle) in as little water as possible to avoid sticking. About midway through the boiling time, add approximately 12-14 oz of tomatoes and their juices. If you are one of the unlucky sort who has to resort to using canned tomatoes, just use one can of tomatoes.
Add some sea salt to taste and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.
Simple Tomato Side Dish
What this lacks by way of a clever name, it more than makes up for in taste. Start with a good slicing tomato, sliced about Â¼’ thick and placed in a large flat baking dish, side by side. Drizzle with a good quality olive oil, sea salt and fresh rosemary and add a bit of shredded mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees just long enough to allow the tomatoes to sweat and the cheese to melt and serve.