I am not really a fan of tomatoes, but I had to change my mind after eating this warm French starter at my parents-in-law’s house in the South of France. A traditional recipe, Provencal tomatoes (tomates à la provençale as it is called in French), originates in the Provence region of France, near Avignon. And bonus, the recipe is really easy to prepare and can be served as a starter or a side dish.
There has been many a book written on Provençale cuisine. The 3 keys to cooking any provençale dish are olive oil, garlic, and the aromatic herbs from the classic French pantry. And to that end tomates à la provençale has it all in spades.
In provençal tomatoes, the tomatoes are drenched in olive oil, garlic and various herbs. They are then cooked for a long time and it is that long cooking process that makes the herbs and garlic meld into the tomato juice to then give it a tangy, almost bitingly caramelised flavor. The sum becomes more than its parts.
It is not clear as to when the recipe was created, but many countries have their own versions of stuffed tomatoes. In the Middle East, they are stuffed with minced meat, and in Italy where it is stuffed with rice. As in those countries, provençale tomatoes are so flavorful that you can serve them as a starter, side dish, or as main dish with rice.
Picking fresh tomatoes
Now, if you wanted to cook this like a true gourmande (french word for foodie), you have to get the tomatoes fresh from the marché. Parisians like their Sunday Farmers’ markets, but they are nothing like the markets in Provence.
Imagine the bright sunshine, the little town square in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with its famous market in its cobblestone streets. Locals bustling about with their straw baskets filled to the brim with fresh produce and flowers. These are the types of tomatoes a true gourmand would go for, fresh from the farm.
But I digress. You can also buy tomatoes at your local supermarket and call it a day. (At least your local supermarket will have air-conditioning, parking and trolleys!) Better yet, you can just get the groceries delivered. I promise you it will taste just as good.
☞ READ MORE: ABC of French Cuisine (the Food Dictionary)
Frequently asked Questions
What main dish serve with provencal tomatoes?
As a main dish, you can serve just about anything, but my favorite combination is with lamb chops. Freshly seared on a grill and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of basil and parsley, it goes beautifully with Provencal Tomatoes.
What drinks to serve?
For drinks, a bottle of chilled rosé wine is the perfect summer feast. Keeping with the provençale tradition, you can pick a Bouches-du-Rhone rosé or Aix-en-Provence rosé.
If you don’t like rosés, a chilled white from the region also works quite well.
☞ READ MORE: Easy Guide to the French Wines
- 4 red tomatoes
- 2 table spoons of olive oil
- 1 tea spoon of garlic powder,
- 1 table spoon of chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- Cut the tomatoes in half and remove some of the seeds.
- Place the tomato halves on a lightly oiled dish that can go to the oven.
- Mix in a bowl: the garlic powder, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, a pinch of marjoram or oregano.
- Add the mix on top of each half of tomatoes and then sprinkle liberally with breadcrumbs.
- Lightly oil the top of the tomatoes.
- Put a little water at the bottom of the dish and bake in the oven for 410F (210 ° C) for about 30 mn.
- Serve while warm, 2 halves of the tomato per person.
- Bon appétit!
- Skip the breadcrumbs to make it keto-friendly and gluten-free.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 88Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 324mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g
Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for informational purposes only.
Serve hot or warm and enjoy! If you enjoyed that article, you may enjoy reading about more classic French appetizers and starters that are easy to prepare.
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