Crispy Baked Tomatoes
This is another one of my favorite side dishes that I find myself going back to every time I am trying to eat healthier. They are so yummy, I always wonder why I don’t make them more often, eating healthy or not. A plain tomato is just that – pretty plain. But dress it up by piling on garlicky parmesan bread crumbs with chopped fresh basil and olive oil on top, and you have something that will bring everyone out to the kitchen to see what smells so good. I guess it’s a given that you have to like tomatoes in order to like this dish. If you don’t, well, that leaves more for me! 🙂
I have specified Panko bread crumbs in this recipe, but you can see from the pictures that I used regular bread crumbs this last time. I prefer to use the Panko style because they are so light and crunchy, but either kind works, so go ahead and use whatever you have in your pantry.
Start with really ripe fresh tomatoes. Each person will get one half, so these two tomatoes will serve four. Get all of your ingredients out and ready. If you have Panko breadcrumbs, they are better, but these plain ones work ok too. Same with the Parmesan cheese. If you have freshly shredded, even better. If not, well this stuff tastes good too. Fresh garlic is a must, as is fresh basil leaves (oops, left them out of the picture). I guess you could use a teaspoon of dried basil if you had to, but try to get the fresh if you can. A good quality olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pretty basic, right?
Crush the garlic and add it to a bowl. Measure all remaining ingredients into the same bowl. Stir in the olive oil until the mixture is thoroughly mixed.
See how pretty and ripe these tomatoes are? The riper they are, the better they will taste. I always try to buy the tomatoes on the vine, unless I have my own out of the garden. They seem to have the best taste of store-bought tomatoes. Evenly sprinkle the tomatoes with the crumb mixture to use it all up.
Pop the tomatoes into a preheated 350 degree F oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and the crumbs are browned.
Baked tomatoes with their crispy garlicky parmesan and bread crumb topping are a simple, yummy side dish. Use the best quality tomatoes you can get. Tomatoes on the vine are sold in grocery stores all year round now, so you can make this dish at any time of the year. Easy, healthy, delicious. What more could you want?
- 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup dry Panko bread crumbs (scant measure)
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (scant measure)
- 1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced
- few shakes of salt
- few grinds of freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Wash tomatoes and slice in half. Put the tomatoes into a non-stick baking dish, cut sides up. (You can spray some cooking oil spray on the baking dish first to ensure that the tomatoes come out clean.)
- Chop up your basil leaves and smash and finely mince the garlic. Combine the basil, garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and oil in a small bowl. Mix well. Top each tomato half with an equal portion of the mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes. The crumbs will have started to brown. The tomatoes will be soft, yet still hold their shape.
I use scant measures for the bread crumbs and the parmesan because it turns out to be a whole lot of crumbs on each tomato half. Using fresh grated parmesan instead of the dry crumbly kind in the shaker tube that we all have in our fridge will give a better taste and nicer presentation. The same can be said for using Panko crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs. Because this is a simple recipe with few ingredients, it is important to use the very best quality ingredients. But, seriously, unless you are having company that you want to impress, use whatever you have. It's still good.