Parmesan Cheese and Fresh Herbs on Tomatoes
About this time of year, every year, you hear me start talking about Jersey tomatoes. In their short season during the summer, I don’t think you can find a tastier Beefsteak tomato and we enjoy them as often as possible. Usually with fresh mozzarella and basil topped with good olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar but now I’ve found another great way to serve them. (Insaalat Caprese)
It’s still a little early for Jersey Beefsteak tomatoes. I think they peak in August but we’ve been getting some pretty good ones from the Pennsylvania farmer’s co op my wife Meg belongs to where she works. In fact, we have been getting a lot of them so I’ve been looking for new ways to prepare them.
And in my Aug/Sept edition of Fine Cooking, there is an article by Melissa Pellegrino called Tomatoes in 10 where she comes up with a bunch of great recipes you can make in 10 minutes with farm fresh tomatoes. I hope to try them all but started with the first one Gratinéed Tomatoes with Cheese and Fresh Herbs. I completely adapted it by switching ingredients I had on hand and the results were delicious. I’m sure her version is even better so I’ll offer you both her recipe and my adaptation then you can go out and come up with your own and let me know.
Gratinéed is the adjective for gratin and means “with a browned crust of bread crumbs and grated cheese.” You may have heard of Gratin Potatoes.
When I read this recipe by Melissa, I immediately went back to my early teens when my dad had us working around the house on Saturdays mornings during the summer. Before we could go off and play with our friends, we were required to do chores like cut the grass, pull weeds, clean up the yard”¦.stuff like that. If my father was working on a big project like building a patio, we had to be there to help but at lunch time we would stop and he would prepare a great meal.
Since he grew his own tomatoes, he often took a slice of bread, added a slice of cheese (I’m sure it was either American or Velveeta in those days), topped that with a slice of fresh Jersey homegrown tomato and a sprinkle of dried oregano. He would then stick them into the oven under the broiler until the bread was toasted, the tomato cooked and the cheese melted. I think this was his version of homemade pizza but they were delicious and after a few hours of working in the yard, tasted delicious.
Broiled Tomatoes with Parmasan Cheese and Fresh Herbs
2 beefsteak tomatoes - cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil - chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley - chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage - chopped
Your best extra virgin olive oil - to taste
Salt & pepper - to taste
How To Prepare At Home
Arrange the sliced tomatoes onto a baking pan. I used one of those Silpat liners to keep the tomatoes from sticking and make clean up a little easier.
Combine the bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. I ended up with extra because I only used two tomatoes, but now I have more if I want to make some of these for lunch.
Top with a little olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.
Stick under the broiler about 6 inches away from the heat and broil for about 3 minutes until the bread crumbs are a deep golden brown but not burnt. Remove from oven and top with the fresh herbs and an extra little extra virgin olive oil and serve.
In Melissa's recipe, she adds the fresh herbs to the breadcrumbs and cheese mixture. I'm sure this is a better way to make this dish, I just didn't take the time to run upstairs to look at the recipe and forgot. I have to say, no one complained about my tomatoes.
I served the tomatoes with shredded chicken over rice with a homemade green mole sauce my friend Paula made for me and a recipe I must get from her to share with you. There was also some leftover corn off the cob and a little sauteed spinach. And then there was a little "last chance" chardonnay wine to go with it. What a great meal!
Melissa Pellegrino's version (Fine Cooking, August/September, 2011)
Same cooking technique, but she used slightly different ingredients and I'm sure you can play around with what you have on hand or are most fond of.
Mix 1/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup finely grated Asiago cheese, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
She uses three sliced tomatoes and tops with the above mixture and broils and finishes the way I described above. I can't wait to try hers and then experiment with some other ingredients like fresh garlic or even some pesto.
What's Your Favorite Version of This Recipe?
I'd love to hear what ingredients you would use for this dish. Post your comments below.
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