Tomatoes Provençal

Though this classic tomatoes Provençal recipe is often relegated to being a side dish, the magnificent array of heirloom tomatoes we enjoy every summer changes the rules and calls for this favorite to take a prominent place on the table.–Chad Robertson

LC Heirloom Heresy Note

Yes, we know, it can seem a shame to do anything with a proper tomato, especially an heirloom variety, aside from slurp it out of hand as you stand at the sink. But when you tire of that–and eventually you will–try this simple little number.

Tomatoes Provencal Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 40 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to largish (about 2 pounds total) ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved crosswise
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 slices day-old bread (about 1-inch thick) store-bought or homemade
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (a blend of dried herbs typically comprising some blend of thyme, basil, fennel, lavender, savory and/or marjoram)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup aged Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  • 1. To make the tomatoes Provençal, preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C).
  • 2. Arrange the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side up. Spoon a little olive oil onto each tomato half and season with salt. Bake until the tops of the tomatoes start to caramelize slightly, about 15 minutes.
  • 3. Meanwhile, place the bread in a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Add the herbs, lemon zest, Parmesan, and olive oil and pulse to combine.
  • 4. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and spoon the crumbs generously onto the tomato halves. Bake until the crumbs are well toasted, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.
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Sofia Reino

Sep 12, 2011

My toddler devoured an entire half tomato and, when asked why she liked it, said it was nice and sweet! This is a staple, and it’s always a nice variation to serve a tomato as a side dish to some grilled meats during the summer months. I would have used a tad less of the bread crumbs, yet I loved their lemon flavor.

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Melissa Maedgen

Sep 12, 2011

If you need another reason to grow your own tomatoes, this recipe could be it. This is really a spectacular way to showcase a ripe tomato, and well worth the minimal effort required to put it together. Simple and delicious, the roasted tomatoes soften just enough and the breadcrumb topping crisps nicely in the oven to offer a crunchy contrast. The only thing a bit off about this recipe was the cooking time. I found that about 10 minutes without the topping and 10 minutes after adding the crumbs was enough. I was, however, using a convection toaster oven instead of a regular oven, and that could account for the difference in timing. I would recommend going by the appearance of the topping. When it looks done, it is.

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Debra K.

Sep 12, 2011

This is a simple way to bring out the full flavor of summer tomatoes. And like most simple recipes with this few ingredients, it’s worth the effort to find the best that you can get — heirloom tomatoes and herbs fresh from the garden or farmers’ market, homemade breadcrumbs from artisanal bread, olive oil and Parmesan, each fragrant of the place it came from. And everything was brightened by a quick swipe of the grater on a lemon from a friend’s tree. This dish is a reflection of a way of life, and deeply nourishing in more ways then can be imagined.

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Lauren M.

Sep 12, 2011

I didn’t have herbes de Provence, so I used an Italian seasoning blend. I’m sure it changed the flavor, but the concept of this recipe is wonderful. It’s like a roasted panzanella salad, almost. I love the bread crumbs and how they add a little crispy texture without having to have huge chunks of bread. The lemon zest adds such a nice bright note. The recipe time and instructions worked perfectly for me, without having to change anything. I will definitely make this again, probably both as a side dish, and also even as a small meal when I’m not that hungry or don’t want something too heavy. It’s amazing that something that sounds so simple has such a yummy, complex flavor!

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Anna Scott

Sep 12, 2011

This side dish was the star of our dinner last night. It was the first dish everyone commented on…and finished. I actually used dried herbes de Provence with a touch more dried lavender, and it turned out well. It’s important to find the freshest tomatoes for this recipe, because they are the star of the show. The bread crumb topping got just crisp enough and was a wonderful contrast to the juiciness of the cooked tomato. I will definitely be making this recipe again! My only comment on the recipe itself was that the initial cooking time for the tomatoes took me about 20 to 25 minutes instead of 15.

Testers Choice
Tracey G.

Sep 12, 2011

It’s always nice to have an easy, tasty tomato recipe in your summer cooking arsenal. The breadcrumb mixture is really flavorful. The lemon zest really brightens the flavor. When I make them again, I think I would scoop out some of the tomato to have more breadcrumbs inside the tomato instead of just sitting on top.

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Cindy Zaiffdeen

Sep 12, 2011

If you’ve had tomatoes broiled with Parmesan on top before, you need to try this recipe! So much better! The addition of lemon zest and the herbes de Provence is spectacular. We made this recipe twice — the first time exactly as written. Very good, however, the texture of the tomatoes was extremely soft, and the crumb mixture was overly browned. The second time we made it, we baked the tomatoes for 10 minutes and another 10 minutes with the crumb topping. Much better in my opinion. Love this, as the crumb mixture stays perfectly crunchy throughout — a nice contrast to the tender tomatoes.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Sep 12, 2011

These were delicious. Even my hubby and my picky son enjoyed them. Mine only took 10 minutes for the crumbs to become golden brown during the second bake. Love the zesty taste the lemon gave, and the herbs de Provence helped enhance the taste of the tomato. I’ll be making these again while we’re getting some wonderful tomatoes.

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Lisa O.

Sep 12, 2011

This was a lovely side dish, and could be a main for lunch or a light summer dinner with some dressed greens. I had the grill on for something else, so I did two in the oven and two on the grill, and both methods worked just fine. Broiling the top of the oven batch made for nice color, which was harder to achieve on the grill, but the grill really lent some nice flavor. I had fresh herbs growing so I used those, finely minced — thyme, basil, marjoram, savory and lavender. If you can’t make your own bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs work just fine — I did both, and we really liked the crunchy panko best. HINT: When you slice the tomatoes, take a small “slice” off the rounded side of the tomato you will be putting on the tray or grill, to make it lay flat and keep it from rolling around.

Testers Choice
Rebecca Marx

Sep 12, 2011

This is a rewarding, low-maintenance way to put summer tomatoes to good use, and works well as both an appetizer or a side dish. Its greatest virtue is the breadcrumb mix, which is so delectable you’ll have a hard time not eating it all straight out of the food processor. Should you manage to resist, you’ll find that it makes an excellent partner to the tomatoes and provides them with compelling textural contrast. This recipe worked as written; the only things I did differently were to use plain old tomatoes instead of heirlooms, which we don’t have yet, and fresh bread that I toasted instead of day-old bread.

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Joel Jenkins

Sep 12, 2011

I have always had trouble getting the nice crust on top of the tomato without having a partially cooked tomato underneath or a soft, mushy crust. This recipe solved that issue for me by cooking half way through and then adding the topping ingredients. By the time you add the topping ingredients, the tomato has cooked out a lot of the liquid. The high-temperature cooking allows the tomato to condense into a bright roasted flavor explosion, counter-balanced nicely by the slight saltiness of the Parmesan topping.

Testers Choice
Raye Tiedmann

Sep 12, 2011

The thing that really makes this recipe pop is the added lemon zest. This one ingredient brought out the flavor that pushed it over the top. It made this simple vegetable stand out. I just loved it. My daughter asked for the recipe, and she is so picky.

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Megan M.

Sep 12, 2011

The finished product was quite delicious. The juices on the bottom of the pan with the olive oil, cheese and crumbs were my favorite part. These would make a nice side dish for fish, although I enjoyed them as a meal. I did have plenty of the crumb mixture left over. I think that it is hard to tell how many crumbs you need…”two slices of day-old bread” isn’t very specific, as loaf size varies quite a bit.

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Linda Pacchiano

Sep 12, 2011

This is a very nice side dish for the summer, or any time of the year. The herbs de Provence worked nicely with the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs. Baking time was exactly as specified in the recipe. I served it with a grilled steak, but this dish would work well with fish, poultry, pork or lamb. I used tomatoes on the vine which worked great, but I am really looking forward to my harvest of jersey tomatoes. I think this dish will be even more flavorful with seasonal, locally grown tomatoes.

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Natalie Reebel

Sep 12, 2011

There is nothing quite like a summer tomato. It’s always great to find a new way to prepare them. I used grilled bread (instead of toasted) to make my bread crumbs. The bread crumb mixture was quite aromatic with all the herbs and lemon zest. The smell was a delight. It was a bit of a challenge to tell when the tomatoes were “beginning to caramelize,” so mine may have overcooked a touch. Still, the flavor was delicious. The tomatoes were tangy and bright but complemented the crunchy top. These tomatoes were hearty and could easily stand on their own as a meal.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Sep 12, 2011

We love tomatoes, and Tomatoes Provençal combined the flavors of France to make a delicious dish! The recipe was easy and fast to assemble, and it could be prepped hours ahead. I used herbes de Provence in the crumb mixture. This dish could be served with roast chicken or any grilled meat. I’m so glad now I have so many tomatoes to use!

Testers Choice
Cindi Kruth

Sep 12, 2011

As I suspected, 30 minutes was too long to bake even my “large-ish,” dead-ripe tomatoes at 475°. Even though I removed them after only 10 minutes of browning the crumbs, I had to scoop the falling-apart soft tomatoes off the pan. Another five minutes, I’m afraid, would have turned them into sauce. I much prefer my roasted tomatoes intact. That said, the flavors — I had some nice herbes de Provence I’d brought home from my January trip — were a classic, delicious blend, and the cheese and crumbs gave the tomatoes a lovely brown topping. I’m rating this TC on the assumption that it is simple enough to realize that if your tomatoes are perfectly ripe, they may need less baking time.

Comments
Comments
  1. One of the finest uses of tomatoes, heirloom or otherwise, imaginable. Classic!

  2. Judith Peres says:

    This preparation takes every tomato, whether grocery-chain or homegrown, to heavenly heights. And I don’t care what the season is–it’s always right, caramelized and aromatic and wonderful.

  3. Jamie says:

    My French husband taught me this as a wonderful side dish for grilled meats. No matter how delicious the tomato is eaten raw, roasting or baking brings out such an incredible flavor – and the topping adds a wonderful zest! Thanks for posting this as it has actually been years since we’ve made it (I had forgotten about this recipe) and now I will. Gorgeous!

  4. Beth says:

    I’m using frozen breadcrumbs. Could someone please give me an idea of how much in cup measurements I should use? Thank you!

    • Dan Kraan, LC Community Moderator says:

      I’d suggest using 1 cup of bread crumbs Beth, provided they aren’t too fine. According to The Cook’s Thesaurus on bread crumbs, 3 slices = 1 cup. In this recipe however, 1-inch slices are thicker, so two will probably be close to 1 cup.

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Beth. It really depends on how large the tomatoes are. For me, I’d go with 1 1/4 cups, that gives a generous 2 tablespoons per tomato half.

  5. Angela says:

    Is 475 right? seems like it’s way too high for tomatoes with olive oil. just wondering if it was a typo for 375. trying the recipe right now at that temp.

    • Julie Dreyfoos, LC Production Manager says:

      Hi Angela, The temperature is correct, I double checked all of our sources. Hope you are enjoying this easy summer dish. What type of tomatoes did you use?

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