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September 12, 2023

Tomatoes Provençal

Baked with Fresh Herbs and Cheese

Tomatoes Provençal is a classic tradition in French cuisine and a stunning example of how you can never get bored with a dish when you slightly alter the preparation. One small change creates an entirely new experience. This dish is made by topping tomatoes with a choice of herbs or cheese and baking them until they are tender and caramelized.

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At the end of tomato season, when I desire a change from fresh sliced tomatoes served with olive oil and sea salt or a Caprese salad with mozzarella and basil, I make tomatoes Provençal. Slice the tomatoes, add some fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil, and bake them until they are tender and the juices and olive oil caramelize.

Tomatoes Provençal is an excellent idea for a side dish or first course. You can also serve them as a vegetarian main dish with heartier toppings such as breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Serve a salad and warm crusty bread, and follow with a fruit salad for dessert to create a satisfying meal.

Since many families tell me they have members who only like raw tomatoes and others who only care for cooked tomatoes, it is easy to modify this recipe to please everyone. Reserve a few tomato slices, don’t cook them, and serve plain with a different herb or cheese than usual, such as chives, feta cheese, or top with a homemade salad dressing. Then, bake the rest. Then it's easy to please the whole family. This is a simple dish to prepare while you’re at home doing something else because the oven does all the work for you.

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Tomatoes Provençal

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Tomatoes Provençal is an excellent idea for a side dish or first course. You can also serve them as a vegetarian main dish with heartier toppings such as breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. 

Many families tell me they have members who only like raw tomatoes and others who only care for cooked tomatoes, and it is easy to modify this recipe to please everyone. Reserve a few tomato slices, don’t cook them, and serve plain with a different herb or cheese than usual, such as chives, feta cheese, or top with a homemade salad dressing. Then, bake the rest. Then it's easy to please the whole family. This is an easy dish to prepare while you’re at home doing something else because the oven does all the work for you.

This is a simple traditional preparation for Tomatoes Provençal. Please see the notes for other delicious variations.

Ingredients

Fresh tomatoes- any kind

Fresh parsley

Fresh garlic

Sea salt or Celtic salt

Freshly ground pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Core and slice the tomatoes and lay them in a baking dish.

Mince the parsley and garlic, then place on top of the sliced tomatoes.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with sea salt, Celtic salt, and freshly ground pepper. Then, add a hearty drizzle of olive oil.

Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until they’re tender and caramelized.

If you’re using other ingredients, as suggested in the notes, such as breadcrumbs or cheese, the process is the same- add the toppings and bake. When using cheese, you may want to broil it at the end for two to three minutes to get a nice browned crisp topping.

Notes

Tomatoes Provençal can be prepared with almost any herb or quality cheese, and I have enjoyed many delicious variations of this dish in France. The options are endless, as you can customize this dish to suit everyone's preferences by adding different combinations of herbs, garlic, and cheese. This allows you to create several variations within one dish. 

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Basil or fresh thyme is excellent when combined with fresh parsley.

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Dried herbs de Provence is also a common topping. I often use dried oregano as well. Each of these dried herbs is delicious and evokes a pizza-like taste when baked with mozzarella. Parmesan or gruyere cheese is also delicious

Crock of herbs de provence

To make a heartier version of Tomato Provençal, add thick slices of fresh mozzarella, Scamorza, or Comte cheese. Scamorza cheese is like mozzarella, but it melts more than mozzarella. The scamorza cheese may melt off the tomatoes, but it’s a blessing. The cheese will create a delicious tomato cheese sauce at the bottom of the dish. If this occurs, scoop it on top of tomatoes and serve bread to mop up this delicious sauce.

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Breadcrumbs are another ingredient often used in Tomatoes Provençal. Just add a thin to medium coating of breadcrumbs on the tomatoes, herbs, and cheese of your choice. However, they must be homemade breadcrumbs to ensure they are light, easy to digest, and avoid the 30-plus additives and preservatives I see on commercial-made breadcrumb labels.

Leftover Tomatoes Provençal, can be used in various dishes throughout the week. For instance, you can mix it with other leftovers, like roasted chicken, potatoes, or steamed green beans.

This summer in France, we made a roast chicken and potatoes for dinner. We wanted to serve the leftovers the next day, but the chicken and potatoes were a bit dry. So, we put fresh tomatoes on top of the chicken with some olive oil and baked it, which was divine.  Tomatoes Provençal would be delicious baked over leftovers of chicken and potatoes.

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I would add them to a salad, sandwich bruschetta, or purée them for a divine sauce to toss with pasta. Once this dish is prepared, you can roll it into many other simple dishes.

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I often cook "au pif," as we say in France, which means cooking without an exact recipe and by "feel" using your intuition.  You’ll often find guidelines in many recipes versus exact quantities.  Write to me here if you have any questions about the recipes.

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