What fruits and vegetables signify summer to you? For me it’s strawberries and blueberries, sweetcorn and peaches, on a growing list.
Only in recent years have I started appreciating tomatoes as a summertime thang. For a long time I thought that I just didn’t like tomatoes much but then I realised my mistake: eating them in seasons other than summer. Tomatoes in the winter just suck. Instead of juicy they’re watery and they lack any sweetness and depth of colour. The flavour is all wrong.
Realising the error of my ways with tomatoes was one of the first steps in getting me interested in eating seasonally. Food simply tastes better when it’s grown in season. I find eating this way even more enjoyable because when things are only good for a short snap of time it makes you appreciate every ear of corn and pint of blueberries that much more. Summer comes and boom! It’s all I can do not to hoard tomatoes and make gallons of fresh sauce.
While raw tomatoes are so wonderful at the moment (thick slices with rounds of fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, a drizzle of oil and balsamic, ho yeah) – this dish is pretty special too. Make room for it in your life.
Freshly sliced tomatoes are dragged through a herbed creamy mixture before being roasted once and then roasted again covered in baguette-croutons and parmesan cheese. The result is a bubbly, crunchy, yet fresh taste of summer ready to be scooped up with yet more baguette.
Baked Tomatoes with Baguette
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi for The Guardian
- 2 tbsp double cream or milk, if you’ve none on hand
- 2-4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped (1/2 for cream mixture, 1/2 to sprinkle later)
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the croutons
- 2 oz finely grated parmesan
- 2 lb tomatoes of as many colours and sizes as you can get
- 1 small French baguette, half to make croutons and half to serve
- Heat the oven to 200C/400F. In a small bowl, mix the cream/milk, anchovies, sugar, garlic, 1/2 the rosemary, oil and a third of the cheese. Cut larger tomatoes widthways into 1.5cm slices and halve smaller ones. Put them in a bowl and pour in the cream mix. Gently combine with your hands, so the tomatoes are coated, then place cut side up in a 8 x 10 inch ovenproof dish; bake for 15-20 minutes, until their edges start to crisp.
- Meanwhile, cut the crust off half the baguette and tear the bread into rough chunks ranging from small crumbs to bigger pieces – you should end up with 6 tbsp of croutons. Toss them in a tablespoon of oil, spread out on a baking sheet and bake alongside the tomatoes for seven minutes, until dry and lightly golden.
- Remove both trays from the oven and spread the croutons on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and the remaining rosemary, and bake for seven minutes more, until the cheese has melted. Remove, set aside for 20-30 minutes (the flavour intensifies), then serve with the rest of the baguette.