Fine Cooking (July/August 2011)
Just over a week ago, we got canning fever.
Tomatoes had been on u-pick at our CSA for a few weeks, and we had debated going out to pick up some for canning and making sauce. But we kept talking ourselves out of it because we were either busy or heading out of town. We still have some tomatoes left over from last summer, and we told ourselves that those would be sufficient until next year.
But the tomatoes kept appearing on the u-pick list, and we kept debating...
Finally, feeling that summer was slipping away and the tomatoes were starting to dwindle at the farm, we drove out there very, very early on a Friday morning to get ourselves a great big ol' mess'a maters.
We arrived at the farm just as the sun was coming up, and we got to work hauling in some tomatoes. The CSA had planted more than half a dozen varieties, and we were like kids at Christmas--choosing which tomatoes we might can, which we might roast, and which we may just might take home for a tomato binge. (Picture Leaving Las Vegas, but with tomatoes in place of the booze.)
Once again, we decided to use the canning method for tomatoes packed in water. This being the third time we've canned tomatoes -- and because we were canning far fewer tomatoes than we had last year -- it was much smoother sailing. We had our jars and lids and rings ready to go. We even had plenty of ice and lemon juice. Our grannies would have been proud.
We canned as many tomatoes as we had jars for, and then (rather than buying more jars) we made an easy oven roasted tomato sauce. We separated servings into multiple resealable plastic bags and froze them. The sauce will be excellent when the weather turns cool this fall.
So we know what you're thinking: "Hey, um, Zach and Clay...what about those gratinéed tomatoes? I though that's why I was here?"
Yes indeed! So at the end of all that canning and processing and roasting and freezing, we still had some tomatoes left over, and we were heading to our friend Owen's birthday party, an afternoon cookout. We were supposed to bring a side dish, but we had been canning all weekend and weren't about to go to the store.
And that's when we remembered these Gratinéed Tomatoes with Asiago and Fresh Herbs that we had spied in Fine Cooking.
This dish was pure kismet for us.
First, we had all the ingredients on hand. Well, that's not true -- we didn't have Asiago cheese. But we did have Parmesan, so we just substituted it in.
It's also dead easy. After a few long days in a hot kitchen, we weren't in shape to make an elaborate side dish. And based on our previous canning experiences, we just felt lucky to be showing up at the party well rested and not wearing tomato-soaked clothes. With some simple slicing, chopping and sprinkling, with a quick dash under the broiler, these tomatoes come together in a matter of minutes.
Not to mention that they're absolutely delicious. The breadcrumbs, crispy from the broiler, are the perfect contrast for vibrant late-summer tomatoes and fresh herbs.
It's a dish we know we'll dream of this winter as we're thinking about the pleasures of summer.
Serves 6. Nutritional information available at FineCooking.com.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium beefsteak tomatoes, (about 6 oz. each), sliced 1/4-inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup finely grated Asiago cheese
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high. Lightly oil a 10x12-inch (or similar size) broiler-safe baking dish. Arrange the tomato slices in the baking dish in a single, slightly overlapping layer. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.
In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Asiago, parsley, thyme, 2 tsp. olive oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the tomatoes.
Broil until the breadcrumbs are a deep golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle with more olive oil and serve immediately.