I usually don’t bake tomatoes in the summer because a) the oven makes my apartment unbearably hot and b) the tomatoes are usually so red and juicy that I want to pick one right up and bite into it like an apple. In the winter, a trip to the oven is an excellent way to amplify a tomato’s flavor when it is pale in complexion and lacking in taste. But in the summer, it can feel downright foolish.
But if you need a break from the usual Caprese Salad, and the weather is not quite so stifling, these baked tomatoes make for an excellent and elegant appetizer. They taste great at room temperature, so no need to have the oven on when your guests arrive. If your garden’s yield has become a burden rather than a blessing, this is also an excellent way to use up your excess and eat the yield throughout the week. After the baking process, when you bite into a roasted tomato, its texture is like that of a fresh, red sauce. For this reason, they are a great topping for a simply dressed spaghetti with olive oil and garlic, or a mixed green salad with a basic balsamic dressing.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Makes 2-4 servings
3/4 pound (about 3) beefsteak or other large firm tomato, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs*
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more stalks for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
* Remove crusts from 3 slices of sandwich bread and pulse in the food processor.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Brush a cast iron skillet or casserole dish with olive oil. Arrange the tomatoes in one layer. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, and herbs. Add a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to combine with a fork.
Spoon the crumb mixture over each tomato. Drizzle some additional olive oil over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are bubbling, then turn the heat up to Broil, and bake for 3-5 more minutes, until the crumbs are nicely browned. Remove from the oven, and garnish with the additional thyme stalks. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.