by Kate Heyhoe
Serves 4; can be doubled.
Luscious small tomatoes are turning up in markets everywhere these days. Some are oval and red, known as Bryan tomatoes, with a special tangy sweetness, and are smaller than cherry tomatoes. Others are shaped like teardrops, and come in yellow, red and orange varieties. Even the ubiquitous cherry tomato is tasting better, now being sold on the vine, ripe and ready for picking.
Besides being packed with flavor, these mini-tomatoes make this gratin a breeze. They're cooked whole, requiring no chopping, nestled under a creamy layer of goat cheese and herbs and a crunchy bread crumb topping. When you bite into the gratin, these tender tomatoes literally burst with flavor: they pop in your mouth, letting their sweet juices mingle with the tangy cheese and herbs.
Another bonus for the busy cook: the gratin may be made earlier in the day and served at room temperature, or reheated. In fact, you can even prepare the cheese-egg mixture a day in advance. On cooking day, simply pour the tomatoes in the dish, cover with the cheese mixture and bread crumbs then bake. Voila! An exquisite side dish with very little effort.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe from cookbook author Georgeanne Brennan. Adapt it to your own tastes by varying the herbs and cheeses.
If doubling this recipe, be sure to use a pan large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer. Bake just until the tomatoes are soft but not yet burst.
Creamy Cheese Mixture:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
5 ounces soft goat cheese, preferably garlic and herb seasoned
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided
1 pound mini-tomatoes, such as Bryan, teardrop, or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup fine dried breadcrumbs, preferably garlic-herb seasoned
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano
Salt to taste (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon)
Pepper, fresh ground to taste
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Cheese Mixture (can be made a day in advance):
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg until mixed. Beat in the cream and flour. Mash in the goat cheese and continue mixing until well combined and creamy. Set aside or refrigerate overnight.
Gratin (can be made earlier in the serving day):
Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a shallow baking dish just big enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer. Add the tomatoes, rolling them around so the oil coats both them and the bottom and sides of the dish. Stir in the basil.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of this mixture on the tomatoes.
Carefully spoon the Creamy Cheese Mixture over the tomatoes and crumbs, distributing it evenly. Top with the remaining crumb mixture and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on top.
Bake until the tomatoes soften but have not yet burst, about 15 to 18 minutes. The top should be golden brown, but if not, finish the gratin under the broiler for a few seconds. Serve hot or at room temperature. (Or, rewarm in a 375 degree oven about 5 minutes).
Kate's Global Kitchen for April, 2000:
4/01/00 Food Jokes and Joke Foods
4/08/00 Easter and Passover Menus: From Nice to Greece
4/15/00 Spring Centerpiece Sides: Phyllo Baskets, Veggie Matchsticks, and Glorious Gratins
4/22/00 Easter Lore & Post-Easter Eggs
4/29/00 Wake-Up: It's Daylight Savings Time! World Power Breakfasts
This page created April 2000
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