Recipe Type: Side Dish Author: Julia Child Serves: 6 Ingredients
3 large firm ripe tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbs minced shallots
1 tsp dried herbs de Provence
3 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 3 Tbs chopped parsley
3 to 4 Tbs olive oil
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.
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.
Notes Do-ahead Notes: The tomato halves can be stuffed several hours in advance and refrigerated before baking. Julia on Bread Crumbs: I always use freshly made breadcrumbs – never the packaged dry kind, which can be stale and have an off taste. Start with homemade-style white bread, crusts removed, either genuinely home-baked or a commercial variety like Pepperidge Farm that has some texture and chew. If the bread is a day or two old, so much the better, since it is easier to make crumbs from bread that is slightly dry. The simplest method is to tear the bread into small chunks, then pulse them, about 2 cups at a time, in a food processor until the crumbs have the texture you want. You can also use an electric blender but work in smaller batches.
Excerpted from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 1999 by A La Carte Communications. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. as part of the JC100 Celebration