What Exactly Is Tomato Pudding And Is It A Dessert?

tomato sauce in a bowl
tomato sauce in a bowl - Igor Ploskin/Getty Images

There are a lot of dishes that conceptually, seem like they shouldn't work. Peanut butter and bananas seems like a bonkers combination, yet it's the basis for the Elvis sandwich, an American classic. Bacon and ice cream feels like it would be a disastrous clash of flavors, yet Burger King's bacon sundae is still pined for by many fast food aficionados (RIP, sweet prince). And then there's the Southern staple known as tomato pudding. Yes, you read that right. Wait, no! Come back! It's actually really good!

Look, a lot of people aren't going to want to try tomato pudding, and that's understandable. "Pudding" and "tomato" seem like weird words to see written down next to each other, and the fact that it's bread pudding rather than a custard only helps a little bit. It can be a hard sell to people, especially considering it doesn't have a super clearly defined food role; it's sort of a dessert, but sort of a side dish, meaning it's a bit of a tweener in the culinary world. But that doesn't mean it isn't delicious.

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Tomato Pudding Balances Acidity And Sugar

tomatoes - Kamila Koziol/Shutterstock

You've probably heard "tomato is actually a fruit" said so many times that hearing it again makes your eyes roll back in your head by now. And yes, tomato being a fruit is one of those facts, like eggplant being a berry, that you probably learned from your most insufferable know-it-all middle school classmate. But the fact tomato is a fruit is important here because it's the only thing that really explains why tomato pudding works as a dish.

See, tomato pudding involves sugar -- a whole lot of sugar. You couldn't get away with this in a dish based around broccoli, and it seems like maybe tomato is an odd choice for that. But tomato and sugar have a history. Sugar shows up quite a bit in pasta sauces, for the simple reason it cuts tomatoes' natural acidity. Tomato pudding takes that principle and dials it up to 11. The surprising key to a tomato pudding is all about the balance.

Tomato Pudding Is Basically Just A Bread Pudding With Tomatoes

bread pudding in a bowl
bread pudding in a bowl - olepeshkina/Shutterstock

Ingredient-wise, tomato pudding is generally extremely simple: canned (or fresh, if you really want to be fancy) tomatoes, sugar, white bread cut up into cubes, butter, and salt/pepper. That's it; that's the whole list. You make it pretty much just like a bread pudding: mix everything together and bake it. The smells might be off-putting if you've never tried it before, because your brain isn't wired to smell sugar, butter, and tomato soup all at once -- but the end result speaks for itself.

What you're left with is something that, as noted, can't accurately be classified as either dessert or a true side dish, nor can it be considered a main course. Its best use case is probably as a potluck food, the sort of thing people can graze over at their leisure. Wherever you serve it, though, it's way, way tastier than you might think.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.