Side/ Vegetarian

Tomatoes Provencal (Tomates à la Provençales)

July 16, 2020 by Chef Molly

Tomatoes Provencal are the perfect summer side dish! Ripe tomatoes stuffed with herby, savory Provencal breadcrumb topping, then baked until crispy.

close up of tomatoes provencal on light green platter with serving fork

There’s nothing I love more than seeing the first summer tomatoes arrive at the farmers’ markets. They are a staple in my regular summer salads, and of course an essential part of a delicious summer BLT. But one of my favorite things to do with perfectly ripe tomatoes is make these France-inspired Tomatoes Provencal.

Tomatoes Provencal is really just a fancy name for oven-baked tomatoes, stuffed with a savory fresh breadcrumb topping. The crumb topping is inspired by Provencal cuisine, with a mix of herbs and garlic. The crumbs soak in olive oil and that Provencal flavor, then crisp up deliciously in a hot oven. The final dish makes an excellent pairing for a simple roasted fish or steak or even some chicken thrown on the grill. Whatever you pair it with, you’ll have a side dish that just screams summer. 

tomatoes, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley, garlic, shallot, and herbes de provence

How to Make Tomatoes Provencal

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Then core 4 large tomatoes, and slice in half horizontally. Standing over a sink, use your fingers to remove the seeds from the tomatoes. Then place tomato halves skin-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

tomatoes sliced in half and seeded

If your tomatoes are at all pointy on the end, slice off the point so that the tomatoes are stable. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper.

Now, finely chop two garlic cloves and one small shallot. You should end up with about 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped shallots.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs, garlic, shallots, 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of herbes de provence, 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

bowl with breadcrumbs, chopped garlic and shallots, parmesan cheese, and herbs and spices

When mixture is well incorporated, use your fingers to scoop out breadcrumbs and press onto each tomato half, filling the holes left by the removed seeds.

tomatoes stuffed with provencal topping on parchment-lined sheet pan

Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown but tomatoes have not lost their shape. 

baked tomatoes provencal on parchment-lined sheet pan

Ingredient Notes

  • Tomatoes: Choosing ripe, local, farm-grown tomatoes will give you the best flavor for this dish. Unfortunately, tomatoes that are commercially grown are often harvested while they are still green and then artificially ripened with ethylene gas—this is why you can find a delicious looking red tomato in the grocery store in December and find out it tastes like cardboard when you get it home. Use large beefsteak tomatoes for this dish if you can, though you could also try with yellow or green zebra tomatoes. The most important things is that the tomatoes are ripe and tasty!
  • Shallot: Feel free to leave this out, or replace with some minced red onion. 
  • Breadcrumbs: Fresh breadcrumbs are so much better than dried in this dish! The reason is that fresh breadcrumbs are generally not as finely ground as dried breadcrumbs. Those larger pieces have more crags and crannies that soak up the oil and then toast up in the oven, adding great flavor to your dish.
  • Parsley: I like chopped fresh parsley in this dish, but you could replace it with other fresh herbs like thyme or chives or even rosemary. Parsley is more mild than most other herbs, so if you use something else, you may want to dial back the amount a little. Or use a combination of other herbs together.
  • Herbes de Provence: I love this spice, which is combination of dried herbs traditionally used in Provençal cuisine. Blends often include rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory, marjoram, and sometimes lavender. So, should you not have herbes de provence, feel free to replace with one or more of the herbs that are usually included in the spice blend.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Some Tomatoes Provencal recipes do not include parmesan cheese at all, so you can leave this ingredient out if you want. Leaving out the parmesan cheese, or replacing with a vegan parmesan-type cheese will give you a vegan version of this recipe (as long as you choose breadcrumbs made from bread that does not include eggs). 

How do I make fresh breadcrumbs?

To make fresh breadcrumbs, put 3-4 slices of bread into a food processor and process until crumbs are just a bit chunky. Those little chunks of bigger breadcrumbs become super tasty when baked. Bread that is slightly stale is the best to use since it’s easier to blend. This is also a great solution for a leftover half baguette! 

What is provencal topping?

The reason this dish is called Tomatoes Provencal is because of its traditional Provencal topping. This topping is usually a combination of breadcrumbs, garlic, butter, and parsley, though it can also include other herbs and parmesan cheese. Of course it is delicious on tomatoes, and you can also use it to stuff mushrooms. It’s fantastic on top of a gratin like this White Asparagus Roquefort Gratin. You can also use it to top fish or chicken before baking—you might try it instead of panko in this Panko-Crusted Salmon Fillets recipe.

close up of one tomato provencal on a small plate with napkin

Can you refrigerate or freeze Tomatoes Provencal?

This dish is really best eaten the same day you make it. You can refrigerate leftovers for a couple of days, but as soon as they have been in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, the topping will start to absorb water and soften. When you’re ready to eat, I highly recommend reheating in the oven instead of the microwave to bring back some of the crunch. As for freezing, I don’t recommend that at all. Tomatoes just don’t take well to freezing and defrosting, and you’ll have a similar issue with the topping becoming soggy. 

How should you store tomatoes?

For many years, I have sworn that uncut tomatoes should never ever be kept in the refrigerator. And I stand by that guideline, though with one caveat learned from a Serious Eats article: if your tomatoes are at their peak of ripeness, refrigeration is the way to go. The reason is that the optimal temperature to store tomatoes is 55 degrees Fahrenheit—which is a tough temperature to maintain in a house: colder than room temperature but not as cold as the refrigerator. 

So if you purchase or pull from from your garden a tomato that is not quite ripe, then by all means, leave it out at room temperature. It will continue to ripen (thank goodness, as I learned after trying to thwart the squirrels in my garden by picking tomatoes before they were ripe). However, if you have perfectly ripe tomatoes, the fridge might be the best place for them as they will also continue to ripen on the counter (and eventually, rot). If you’re not going to eat them in 1-2 days, you can keep them at their perfect stage of ripeness by putting them in the refrigerator. That said, always take them out about a half hour before you want to eat them so that they can come back to room temperature. Lesson learned. 

Nutritional Value of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are technically a fruit, not a vegetable, and they’re packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals. Top of the list is lycopene, which is an antioxidant linked to the reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes also include helpful amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium—but very few calories or fat. Tomatoes also include beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. 

Other Summer Recipes

Are you looking for other recipes to show off some of summer’s most delicious vegetables? Here are a few of my favorites:

close up of tomatoes provencal

Tomatoes Provencal

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Tomatoes Provencal are the perfect summer side dish! Ripe tomatoes stuffed with herby, savory Provencal breadcrumb topping, then baked until crispy.

Ingredients

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (about 90 g)
  • 1/4 cup (13g) chopped parsley
  • 1/2 t. herbes de provence
  • 3 T. grated parmesan cheese (about 20 g)
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. olive oil

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius.
    2. Core tomatoes, and slice in half horizontally. Standing over a sink, use your fingers to remove the seeds from the tomatoes.
    3. Then place tomato halves skin-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If your tomatoes are at all pointy on the end, slice off the point so that the tomatoes are stable. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper.
    4. Now, finely chop the garlic cloves and shallot. You should end up with about 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped shallots.
    5. In a large bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, garlic, shallots, parsley, herbes de provence, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
    6. When mixture is well incorporated, use your fingers to scoop out breadcrumbs and press onto each tomato half, filling the holes left by the removed seeds.
    7. Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown but tomatoes have not lost their shape.

Notes

  • To make fresh breadcrumbs, put 3-4 slices of bread into a food processor and process until crumbs are just a bit chunky. Those little chunks of bigger breadcrumbs become super tasty when baked—much better than traditional fine packaged breadcrumbs. Bread that is slightly stale is the best to use since it’s easier to blend. This is also a great solution for a leftover half baguette!
  • Ingredient substitutions for herbs: I like chopped fresh parsley in this dish, but you could replace it with other fresh herbs like thyme or chives or even rosemary. Parsley is more mild than most other herbs, so if you use something else, you may want to dial back the amount a little. Or use a combination of other herbs together. Herbes de Provence blends often include rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory, marjoram, and sometimes lavender, so feel free to replace with one or more of the herbs that are usually included in the spice blend.
  • For a vegan version of this recipe, leave out the parmesan cheese (or replace it with a vegan version) and make sure to use breadcrumbs made from bread that does not include eggs.
  • This dish is really best eaten the same day you make it. You can refrigerate leftovers for a couple of days, but as soon as they have been in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, the topping will start to absorb water and soften. When you’re ready to eat, I highly recommend reheating in the oven instead of the microwave to bring back some of the crunch. As for freezing, I don’t recommend that at all. Tomatoes just don’t take well to freezing and defrosting, and you’ll have a similar issue with the topping becoming soggy.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 309Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 666mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0

You Might Also Like

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Bill Wilson
    August 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Awesome, easy and delicious recipe. I did it and it worked out for me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      August 5, 2020 at 6:28 pm

      Great! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. I plan to make this again soon with the rest of my ripe summer tomatoes!

  • Reply
    What to make with the fresh veggies in your August CSA box | Cool Mom Eats
    August 8, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    […] recipe, like this one at Cooking on the Ranch. Or roast tomatoes to get their full flavor: these baked tomatoes Provencal at Vanilla Bean Cuisine look incredible. Then again, PK’s Kitchen Equations has a simple […]

  • Reply
    mimi rippee
    August 11, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    I haven’t made these in years! Thanks for the reminder. I can’t even imagine 17 hours in a mask. We went to montana last month and every flight was FULL. it was awful.

  • Leave a Reply