Seasonal local food recipe No 115: Brown tom

We have so many tomatoes in our weekly veg boxes at the moment we hardly know what to do with them! 

Some of us are roasting the split, slightly over-ripe ones with garlic and onion, then whizzing them up into a tasty pasta sauce with basil and parsley from our veg boxes. Others are busy making green tomato chutney from the fruits that drop before ripening. 

I keep the small, sweet cherry tomatoes in a bowl on the worktop and dip into them like sweets. The larger ones are so full of flavour they’re ideal for cooking.

This variation on the classic tomato gratin is from Lindsey Bareham’s new recipe collection The Big Red Book of Tomatoes.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes

1kg tomatoes, ripe, full-flavoured cored, scalded, peeled and thickly sliced
150g wholemeal bread, without crust
2 medium onions, very finely chopped
1 very large clove of garlic, finely chopped
25ml flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
30ml basil, finely chopped
6 tbsp parmesan, freshly grated
4 tbsp olive oil
25g butter

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Chunk the bread and process to crumbs in a food processor. Mix together the breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, herbs and parmesan, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Use 1 tbsp of the olive oil to grease an approximately 25cm x 5cm metal oven dish. Cover the bottom with a third of the bread mixture and top with half the tomatoes. Season, then dribble over a tbsp of the olive oil. Cover the tomatoes with another third of the bread mixture and then the remaining tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and another tbsp of olive oil. Finish with the remaining third of bread mixture and dribble over the remaining olive oil. Finally, cover the bread with thin slices of butter.

Cook for 35 minutes in the middle of the hot oven or until the top is well-browned. Serve from the dish, cut like a cake using a fish slice. Dust with more parmesan.

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