Tomatoes à la Provençale

We’re dipping our toes into French cooking today with an easy recipe to show off those Campari tomatoes I love.

Tomatoes à la Provençale is made with garlic, parsley, bread crumbs, and good tomatoes that manage to still hold their shape after an hour in the oven. This turned out much, much better than the pasta-that-will-not-be-named, which was not bad but not pretty and did not look like the photo in the magazine.

But back to these tomatoes. There are so many different recipes for these French tomatoes, including a couple from Julia Child and my girl, Ina Garten, but I liked this one for its simplicity and slow cooking. They’d be at home on the side of fish for dinner, with some rice or more bread to scoop up the softened tomato. Finish them off with some cheese if you’d like, but they don’t need it. The slow-roasting of the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and keeps them from being watery, according to James Peterson, and the fresh flavors of garlic and parsley keep it interesting. This one’s definitely garlicky, with a couple more cloves than called for because we can’t get enough around here.

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tomatoes à la provençale

These French tomatoes can be adapted in so many ways with different herbs and mixing in cheese with the breadcrumbs. But this recipe is simple and straightforward without skimping on flavor. As James Peterson says in his cookbook, the slow roasting of the tomatoes captures the sweetness of the tomatoes in a way a quick recipe could not.

4 medium tomatoes, stems removed
3 to 5 cloves garlic (depending on how much of a garlic lover you are), minced and then crushed to a paste
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup bread crumbs (work a couple slices of stale bread through a mesh strainer or the fine side of a cheese grater)
salt
pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. Cut tomatoes in half across the middle. Squeeze or spoon the seeds out. Set the tomatoes cut side up in a baking dish. Sprinkle the garlic, parsley, and bread crumbs over the tomatoes, pressing each ingredient into the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 1 hour, until the tomatoes shrink and look a little wrinkled. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 4. Adapted slightly from “Kitchen Simple” by James Peterson.

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