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Green Tomato Gratin

by Jane Worthington-Roth

Here’s a quick and easy dish that can be made entirely in a cast iron pan. If you don’t have access to any late-season green tomatoes, you can substitute under-ripe heirloom tomatoes - the firmer, the better. The recipe is easiest to compose if you are careful to keep the onion rounds together, but if they fall apart then the gratin will taste just as delicious! The flavor is bright and fresh.

4 slices of bacon, cut into cubes (or – for a vegetarian version, use olive oil)
2 red onions of equal size, each sliced into 4 (approximately ¼”) rounds
4 green tomatoes, each cut into 4 (approximately ¼”) slices
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces shredded Italian blend cheese
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large (10”) cast iron pan until crisp. Remove bacon pieces and set aside. If you are not using bacon, then heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering.

Carefully place the onion rounds into the pan and cook until soft and beginning to lightly brown. Turn the slices over and lightly brown on the other side, adding a bit more oil, if necessary.

Remove the onion rounds to a dish and place the tomato slices in the bottom of the pan. Top with the onion slices. Season with a little salt and pepper, then top with the grated cheese. If you’re using bacon, sprinkle the reserved bacon bits over the cheese, then top with the panko. To ensure a nice brown crust, lightly spritz the panko with some olive oil.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 more minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the cheese is melted and golden. Cut into slices to serve.