P1080378And I say tomate. They are at the height of their glory here in France these days, and we are enjoying them in so many ways.

P1080380
The uglier the better.

A summer tomato bears no resemblance to the winter hothouse versions, which are nothing but ghosts of tomatoes, lacking flesh, with their watery insides dripping from mere skeletons of tomato-ness. A summer tomato is full and fleshy. It’s sweet and juicy and substantial enough to eat alone.

But we do like to gild the lily.

P1080521
That big yellow-orange one on the left is a “pineapple tomato.” The BEST. Those sweet potatoes got turned into sweet potato-sage gnocchi by our kid/chef. But that’s another story.

IMG_4376A little onion. A little garlic. A little olive oil. Some parsley. Or basil. Or thyme. A little breadcrumb crust to soak up the olive oil-enhanced juices. So many possibilities. It’s a good thing, because when tomatoes are in season, we eat them a couple of times a week. Same as with asparagus, or strawberries. In season or not at all. So make that season count. And do not refrigerate!

IMG_4370
These tomatoes have never seen a refrigerator. Straight from the garden.

I had promised a while back to include the recipe for Christine’s tomates provençales from our cooking lesson. Here it is, at last.P1080367

P1080413
Tomatoes and beans from a local garden. The beans are “hand-picked,” it says.

IMG_4375How many tomatoes you need depends on their size (and what else you’re serving). If you have big ones, you might want just half per person, or one per person. If you have small tomatoes, like the roma variety, you might want one or two per person. We are tomato gluttons, and we like having leftovers, so I figure on a big tomato per person or its equivalent in smaller ones.

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celsius).P1080327Cut the tomatoes in half. Score them, sprinkle with a little salt, and turn them upside down to drain for 15 minutes or more. You can put them on a cooling rack or a flat strainer or just on paper towels. P1080322Chop up a big bunch of parsley. It makes no difference whether it’s flat or curly. Chop up two to eight garlic cloves, depending on how much you love garlic (there is no right or wrong in this recipe). The chopping is greatly aided by a food processor. Christine had a small one–a spice grinder–that she brought to the cooking class. I have only a knife and limited patience, so my parsley here is too big. You want it to be fine so that, when you mix it with the garlic and a generous half cup (15 cl) of olive oil, you end up with a green slurry. It’s good on lots of things–roasted carrots, chicken, potatoes… Persillade is to savory food as diamond studs are to accessories–it goes with almost anything.P1080331Place the tomatoes cut-side up in an oiled baking dish. Spoon the persillade over them and roast them for an hour. They should get caramelized but not hard or crusty.P1080335You also can cook them faster–20-30 minutes–in a hot oven (400 Fahrenheit/200 Celsius), but they don’t get as caramelized as the low and slow method. Also, the persillade risks browning too much (sometimes called “burning”). On the other hand, sometimes we don’t have an hour to get dinner on the table.

P1080350
Obviously, I did it the fast way here. 

Other tomato alternatives:P1080517

tomatoes cooked
This one was better caramelized…but I forgot to take a photo immediately. Why? Well, dinner was ready. Priorities. We ARE in France, after all.

I like to slice them, because it’s pretty, and I can tuck thinly sliced onions in between. Top with olive oil, or with breadcrumbs and olive oil, or with breadcrumbs and parsley and olive oil, or with persillade. You have options. This version benefits from low and slow because the sliced tomatoes aren’t drained, and the juices need time to evaporate.

P1050495
Breadcrumb + parsley + garlic version. Drizzle with olive oil.

Did you know that if you have burned something in a pot or pan, you can get it off easily by squirting a little ketchup on it? Just let it sit–overnight, maybe a couple of days. It will come off eventually! The acid in the ketchup works off the burned material without scrubbing (or scratching your pan). The wonders of tomatoes never cease.

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21 thoughts on “You Say Tomato

  1. Nothing like those imperfect, freakily formed summer tomatoes. I like your version with the red onions and bread crumbs. And as for cleaning, I’ve started saving my squeezed lemons and using them for washing up. They cut through grease amazingly!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You gals! At last a use for the ketchup that my youngest insists I keep in the cupboard in case she is visiting (ugh the ketchup but love the daughter) and the remains of lemons for washing up. Honestly …. I am indebted to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Trigger happy as ever, I pressed reply too quickly. I also wanted to say how wonderful your ode to the tomato, how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy them in all their glory here and how wonderful your recipes look. I also want to add that men should eat as many tomatoes as they can – certainly one every day (yes, even they militarily precise hothouse winter ones or if they can’t be abided then tinned) because they are excellent in helping ward of testicular cancer. So please encourage your men to munch them as frequently as possible. Especially your carnivore.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good. That makes me feel happy. I am quite evangelist about spreading the message on this one which my husband told me almost the day we met (slightly unnerving at the time to have him talking about testicles over dinner!)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I only use passata and polpa in winter, because after having tasted real tomatoes I really can’t deal with the glasshouse ones. Or glasshouse anything. Since I get a basket of produce thats all harvested on the same local farm delivered, I got a lot more creative and varied in my cooking. And occasionally faster, because I discovered, you can chop up and roast or bake almost anything and serve it with noodles or bread. So thanks for another roasted recipe, will definitely try the parsley. Did you know it contains large amounts of iron? And ripe tomatoes contain a lot of folic acid and other vitamins?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s no shame in using canned tomatoes in winter–they are harvested and processed at their height. I have read that tomatoes contain more nutrients when cooked (less water per volume?) but didn’t know about the folic acid. Thanks!

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  5. I haven’t had breakfast yet the the tomato glam shots are making me hungry. As a younger gardener I planted a heady southern side garden of roses, peonies and iris. As I found I prefer woody plants, my whole garden became a shady woodland. A few years ago I ripped out the southern (best sun I had available) and planted tomatoes and herbs. In our drought, the squirrels and and birds love to use them for water. This year we added bird netting to them. What a hysterical video that would have made. “Harvesting” is another what in the hell am I doing moment. But last nights Caprese salad said: Yes, yes, yes, I said yes!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful recipes. I love roasted tomatoes…..actually tomatoes served any style. It’s much too hot to have the oven on…will use the BBQ to roast them.
    Ali

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful post – I’ve been ‘canning’ tomatoes for the past couple of weeks – it’s so easy to put up a winter supply of tomato paste, passata and chopped tomatoes when there is a glut, and I swear they taste better than the cans of store bought!
    Will have to make tomato pie soon!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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