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.
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.
In my Aug/Sept edition of Fine Cooking, there is an article by Melissa Pellegrino called Tomatoes in 10, where she comes up with many great recipes you can make in 10 minutes with farm-fresh tomatoes. I hope to try them all, but I started with the first one, Gratinéed Tomatoes with Cheese and Fresh Herbs.
I completely adapted it by switching the 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 returned to my early teens when my dad had us working around the house on Saturday mornings during the summer. Before we could go off and play with our friends, we were required to do chores like cutting the grass, pulling weeds, and cleaning up the yard.
If my father was working on a big project like building a patio, we had to be there to help, but at lunchtime, 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 sprinkled 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 tasted delicious after a few hours of working in the yard.
Broiled Tomatoes with Parmasan Cheese and Fresh Herbs
- Arrange the sliced tomatoes onto a baking pan. I used one of those Silpat liners to keep the tomatoes from sticking and make cleaning up 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 bit of olive oil, and then season with salt and pepper.
- Stick under the broiler about 6 inches 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 extra virgin olive oil, and serve.
- Melissa adds fresh herbs to the breadcrumbs and cheese mixture in her recipe. I'm sure this is a better way to make this dish; I didn't take the time to run upstairs to look at the recipe and forgot. No one complained about my tomatoes.
- I served the tomatoes with shredded chicken over rice with a homemade green mole sauce.