We toned down our garden a little this year but the one thing I’ll always grow are tomatoes. There’s nothing like fresh tomatoes you’ve grown yourself. So sweet and flavorful. I am always reminded how wonderful it is to grow your own tomatoes with the first bite I take of one just picked off the plants. And since we’re at the end of August, our tomato plants are giving us a lot to work with.
Tomatoes a la Provençale lends itself perfectly to summer’s bounty with homegrown garden tomatoes and herbs. It’s a dish which screams ‘FOR BEST RESULTS USE THE FRESHEST INGREDIENTS!!!’ Now there are many recipes for Tomatoes Provençale out there and initially I settled on one from Ina Garten, but I noticed she acknowledged Julia Child. I shook my head, what was I thinking? Of course I should have automatically thought of her? To the bookshelf.
One huge difference I noticed when comparing the two was the Julia Child recipe has no cheese in it. There are a bunch of recipes out there which have some sort of cheese on top or incorporated into the herb mixture. Mostly you’ll see Parmigiano added but for some reason Ina used gruyere. I think you can get away with Parmigiano-Reggiano if you really want it, but for me gruyere would be too heavy. You want those tomatoes to be the superstar here. I liked seeing a cheese-less recipe. Julia’s recipe also has much less bread crumbs than Ina’s (½ C vs 1 ½ C!). Doesn’t seem like much but omitting the gruyere and extra cup of bread crumbs gives you more tomato and herb.
Not going to lie, the flavors are as you’d expect, amazing. Just baking the tomatoes for the short time really concentrates the tomato’s sweetness, and it mixes in almost perfectly with the herbs, garlic and shallots. Seriously, if there’s a flavor of summer tomatoes Provençale is it. I was a little disappointed the bread crumbs didn’t brown as much as I wanted them to, but since I used Panko bread crumbs they stayed very crisp and crunchy. A nice substitution.
This is a ridiculously simple dish to prepare and cook. By the time the oven is heated your tomatoes are prepped and ready. You can even add a little more summery flavor by cooking on the grill. I wanted to do this but sadly, it rained that evening. Do yourself a favor and make these as much as possible in the dying days of summer. Grab as many as you can from your garden or from your farmer’s market. The fresher the better!
Tomatoes a la Provençale (adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
- 6 medium sized red and ripe tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbs shallots, minced
- 3 Tbs basil, minced
- 2 Tbs parsley, minced
- ½ Tbs thyme
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ C olive oil
- ½ C Panko bread crumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half cross-wise. Squeeze or scoop out the seeds from the sections.
Place the tomato halves in a small baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl combine and mix together all of the remaining ingredients. Season to taste.
Spoon the mixture evenly among the tomatoes, making sure to get it into the hollowed out sections.
Drizzle with some olive oil (I didn’t do this so that may be why they didn’t brown up as much as I wanted) and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender and the bread crumbs have browned a little.
Pop open a bottle of your favorite summer wine, eat, and enjoy!
As in recent years, my tomato plants have succumbed to wilt. I even bought wilt-resistant tomatoes from white flower farm. Oh well. At least real tomatoes are available at the store these days. Last night I just cored a few small tomatoes, filled them with pesto and roasted them. Simple and full of flavor. With larger tomatoes I think you definitely need the bread crumbs and other goodies. But I agree with you on the Gruyere. It’s about the tomatoes!
Oh no! Well at least you’ve got some fresh ones available!