If you’ve ever seen a menu list a dish as “a la Provencal,” it’s a sure bet the flavor profile originates from the southeast of France, where the cuisine gives a strong nod to garlic, tomato and olive oil.
Tomatoes Provencal is an ideal use for summer tomatoes. The whole-wheat breadcrumb stuffing is flavored with garlic, fresh basil and thyme and stuffed into a ripe, juicy tomato.
The addition of pine nuts and mild cheese makes it the perfect side dish for grilled meats or as a centerpiece at brunch, and it can be served hot or cold.
4 small to medium ripe tomatoes (about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter)
4 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 green onion
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a small (7-by-5-inch) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a small amount in the shell. Invert onto paper towels to drain.
Place sandwich bread into a mini food processor or food processor. Process to make crumbs. Place crumbs in a medium bowl. Return work bowl to food processor. Cut green onion into 1-inch pieces and place in the food processor bowl along with basil leaves and garlic. Process until finely chopped. Add to breadcrumb mixture. Add thyme leaves, pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently to blend.
Place tomatoes cut side up into prepared baking dish. Spoon stuffing mixture into the 4 tomatoes, dividing evenly.
Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked and tender. Sprinkle cheese evenly over tomatoes. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake about 1 minute or until cheese is melted. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Per serving: 176 calories (37 percent from fat), 8 g total fat (3 g saturated), 13 mg cholesterol, 21 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 197 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber.
Yield: 4 servings.