Julia & Jacques Recipes For Provençal Tomatoes

Yesterday, we highlighted Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home cookbook. Today we share two recipes for Provençal Tomatoes -- one from each star culinarian. The book is filled with useful tidbits of advice. Here are just a couple culled from the Provence recipes, which follow the jump.

Julia on using a bit of sugar on unripe tomatoes: "I don't agree with people who huffily declare that you should never use sugar this way on a fresh vegetable. To me it's a fine flavor-enhancer -- in the same way a tiny amount of sugar will bring out a lot of flavor in cucumbers. But use a light hand: if people notice the sugar, you have put in too much."

Jacques' thoughts on using the whole garlic clove: "Some people discard the 'germ' of the garlic, the small sprout in the center of the clove. In fact, I think it is the most tender part and always use it.  In China, I discovered, they grow the germs and sell them in the market to be cooked like scallions."

Julia's Stuffed Tomatoes Provençal

Yield: 6 tomato halves

3 large firm ripe tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the stuffing

1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs

2 Tbs. minced shallots

1 tsp dried herbes de Provence

3 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 to 3 Tbs chopped parsley

3 to 4 Tbs olive oil

Special equipment

A shallow baking dish, lightly brushed with olive oil

Preparing the tomatoes

Set a rack on the upper-middle level and preheat the oven to 400 F.

Core the tomatoes and cut them in half crosswise. Over a plate or bowl,

squeeze each half gently to force out the seeds and juice (reserve for

stock). With your fingers, clean the cavities of any clinging seeds.

Arrange in the baking dish cut side up. If any halves are wobbly or

tilted, trim a bit off the bottom so that they sit flat in the pan.

Season with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Stuffing and baking the tomatoes

Stir together the bread crumbs, shallots, dried herbs, grated cheese,

and chopped parsley in a small bowl. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the

olive oil, tossing well to moisten the crumbs evenly.

Spoon the stuffing into the tomato halves, pushing it down into the

cavities and mounding on top. Drizzle a scant teaspoon of oil over the

top of each half.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the topping has browned and

the tomatoes are hot but still keep their shape. Serve hot in the

baking dish, or move them carefully to a clean platter.

Do-ahead notes

The tomato halves can be stuffed several hours in advance and refrigerated before baking.

Jacques's Tomatoes Provençal

Yield: 6 tomato halves

3 large firm ripe tomatoes

1 Tbs or so olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the persillade

4 cloves garlic, peeled

Handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup), large stems removed

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs butter

Special equipment

A large non-stick frying pan or sauté pan; a shallow baking dish large enough to hold all tomato halves.

Cooking the tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut the tomatoes in half crosswise.

Set the pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and swirl to coat

the bottom. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes without moving the halves, until

they are well seared, brown (but not burnt) on the cut sides and edges.

To check the tomatoes, and to remove them from the frying pan, lift

them with tongs or a paring knife stuck in the side.

Arrange the halves in the baking dish seared side up and season with

the salt and pepper. Set the dish in the oven and bake 10 minutes or

more, until the tomatoes are soft and hot but still holding their shape.

Preparing the persillade

While the tomatoes are baking, smash the garlic cloves and chop roughly

with a large knife. Pile the parsley on top of the garlic and chop

together until finely minced. You should have 1/3 to 1/2 cup of persillade.

When the tomatoes come out of the oven, heat the oil and butter in a

medium sauté pan. Add the persillade and sauté over medium heat for

half a minute, shaking the pan and stirring, until hot and fragrant.

Top each tomato half with a tablespoon of more of the persillade and serve.

Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer

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