Provençal Tomatoes

This is a special entry for a couple of reasons: it is the first ever whatfoodimade dish made in someone else’s kitchen and it is also one of the suggested recipes for Week 12 of the JC100 Celebration.

I was away from home, preparing to take a week-long vacation at a cottage in Central Ontario, so I had my camera with me. To make travelling easier, I was staying with friends before we took off on Sunday. Also in play: a trip past an outdoor market selling fresh local tomatoes (and potatoes) and the plan to have lamb for dinner. Provençal Tomatoes are fantastic with lamb! Happily it didn’t take much convincing to add it to the menu.

Here’s what happened:
Got the tomatoes.

fresh, local tomato

Fresh, local tomato.

Halved three tomatoes.

halved tomatoes

Halved tomatoes.

Scooped out the seeds.

tomatoes without their seeds

Tomates sans leurs graines.

Made fresh breadcrumbs.

making fresh breadcrumbs

Stuffing mixture.

stuffing for tomatoes

Stuffing for tomatoes.

Filled the tomatoes.

stuffed tomatoes

Stuffed tomatoes.

Provençal tomatoes served with barbecued lamb chops and boiled potatoes.

Provençal tomatoes served with barbecued lamb chops and boiled potatoes

Provençal tomatoes served with barbecued lamb chops and boiled potatoes.

Provençal Tomatoes from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin
Yield: 6 tomato halves

Ingredients
3 large firm ripe tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the stuffing:
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbs minced shallots
1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
3 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 3 Tbs chopped parsley
3 to 4 Tbs olive oil

Method

Preparing the tomatoes

Set a rack on the upper-middle level and preheat the oven to 400°F.

Core the tomatoes and cut them in half crosswise. Over a plate or bowl, squeeze each half gently to force out the seeds and juice (reserve for stock). With your fingers, clean the cavities of any clinging seeds. Arrange in the baking dish cut side up. If any halves are wobbly or tilted, trim a bit off the bottom so that they sit flat in the pan. Season with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Stuffing and baking the tomatoes

Stir together the bread crumbs, shallots, dried herbs, grated cheese and chopped parsley in a small bowl. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, tossing well to moisten the crumbs evenly.

Spoon the stuffing into the tomato halves, pushing it down into the cavities and mounding on top. Drizzle a scant teaspoon of oil over the top of each half.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the topping has browned and the tomatoes are hot but still keep their shape. Serve hot in the baking dish, or move them carefully to a clean platter.

Do-ahead Notes

The tomato halves can be stuffed several hours in advance and refrigerated before baking.

Julia on Bread Crumbs:
I always use freshly made bread crumbs—never the packaged dry kind, which can be stale and have an off taste. Start with homemade-style white bread, crusts removed, either genuinely home-baked or a commercial variety like Pepperidge Farm that has some texture and chew. If the bread is a day or two old, so much the better, since it is easier to make crumbs from bread that is slightly dry. The simplest method is to tear the bread into small chunks, then pulse them, about 2 cups at a time, in a food processor until the crumbs have the texture you want. You can also use an electric blender, but work in smaller batches.

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