Twice in the past month, I've come across recipes for a "tomato crumble." A friend sent me one, and I discovered the other in a French cookbook. In both versions, diced tomatoes were seasoned with fresh herbs, covered with a combination of parmesan cheese and bits of butter, then baked. I found the idea of a tomato crumble so enticing that my mouth watered at the thought.
I halved and seeded the juicy red orbs, then cut them into chunks and spread them in a baking dish. Next they were drizzled with olive oil and tossed with chopped basil and rosemary. A topping of fresh bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts and butter completed the dish.
The main course for our soiree included grilled lamb chops sprinkled with bits of blue cheese, an arugula salad and the colorful tomato crumble, which I baked several hours ahead, then reheated at serving time. Although the tomatoes made a fine garnish for lamb, they would have been just as tempting alongside roasted chicken, grilled steaks or even sauteed halibut or cod.
Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.
Serves 4 to 6
2 1/2 to 3 pounds tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, made from day-old peasant white bread, including the crust
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup pine nuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small dice
Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a shallow 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
Stem tomatoes, then halve horizontally. Squeeze halves lightly to extract juice, then scoop out seeds.
Cut into 1-inch chunks and drain chunks in a colander for 20 minutes. (The amount of liquid that drains from the tomatoes will vary depending on the variety of tomato you use.)
Spread the tomato chunks in the baking dish.
Add the basil, rosemary, salt and several grinds of black pepper, and toss.
Mix together the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and pine nuts in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix well with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes.
Bake the tomato crumble until the topping is crisp and slightly browned and juices are bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven. Do not worry if there is liquid in the pan; you can spoon it out or leave as is. (The crumble can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cool and leave at room temperature. Reheat in a preheated 350-degree oven until warm, about 15 minutes or longer.)
Garnish the center of the crumble with fresh basil and rosemary sprigs.
Per serving (based on 6 servings): 305 calories, 9 grams protein, 23 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 39 milligrams cholesterol, 650 milligrams sodium.
Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.