Monday, July 5, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Oh that dreaded question. We were faced with it once again this evening. Where we live, temperatures in the summer frequently reach 100 degrees or more. As you can imagine, it's hard to get excited about a complicated, heavy meal. Today we needed a light and quick meal, so as usual, I got some inspiration by exploring Food Network recipes. Ina has never let me down, so I typically look to her ideas first.

What caught my eye was her Provencal Tomatoes. Juicy summer tomatoes stuffed with fresh breadcrumbs and herbs. The verdict: a new favorite in our household. This recipe was light, full of flavor, and incredibly easy! I have always thought that stuffed dishes seem more involved and complicated for some reason. With my husband's help, our prep time was only about ten minutes and we were ready to bake. Even the baking time was quick! Fifteen minutes and dinner was ready. This is a great way to enjoy some fresh tomatoes from your local farmer's market, and something you can throw together, even after a long day at work.

Here's the drill:


  • 6 ripe tomatoes (2 1/2 to 3-inches in diameter)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • Good olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the cores from the tomatoes, removing as little as possible. Cut

them in half crosswise and, with your fingers, remove the seeds and juice. Place the tomato halves in a baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, scallions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle the tomato halves generously with salt and pepper. With your hands, fill the cavities and cover the tops of the tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture. Bake the tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until they're tender. Sprinkle with the cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 30 seconds more. Serve hot or at room temperature.

My Recipe Notes:

  • I sprinkled a little Fleur de Sel on top after these came out of the oven for extra flavor.
  • The cheese was not quite brown enough after the baking time, so we popped them under the broiler for a couple minutes.
  • Some reviewers mentioned the breadcrumbs were dry (most likely store-bought breadcrumbs were used), but I followed directions and made fresh breadcrumbs in the food processor. I did not find it dry at all.
  • Fresh herbs are a must.
  • We made this our main course, and this fed two of us perfectly (we had smaller tomatoes). As a side dish, this would easily feed four. We paired this dish with a small pesto focaccia that we love from our farmer's market (made by Beckmann's Bakery in Santa Cruz).
  • It states on the Food Network site that Ina's recipe was inspired by Julia Child. Ina Garten and Julia Child? How can you go wrong with that?
The before:

The after:

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