Friday, August 26, 2011
Baked Tomatoes with Cheese
Yesterday Lewis returned to work, officially ending our vacation. A vacation that began with 2 days of tantrums and whining, causing the adults to grumble, often loud enough for the children to hear, about why we go away on vacation anyway. However then we settled in and had an amazing time. Sometimes I feel we go away on vacation so we can really notice how the boys have grown and changed in the previous year. It takes something that only happens once a year to really step back and witness who they are. This year they are far more independent and confident; as a major vacation milestone they know agree to use all public restrooms, even the ones with auto flush toilets.
Every year they return with memories of the previous years and expectations of what they want to do. At low tide Julian can often be found building a massive castle with a moat that can be taken by the ocean as the tide comes in. As the water begins to lap at the sides he starts to scrape at them with a shovel and kicking the tops of the towers. Unable to let the ocean complete the destruction without his help. Sebastian often helps Julian to build the castle, but more often he spends his time collecting minnows and hermit crabs. This year he did not collect them all himself and instead trained other children on the beach. Once the tide starts to come in he unceremoniously dumps them all back in the water.
This year the WiFi on vacation was not strong enough to reach our cottage. I could only check my email when we went out for homemade ice cream. Which of course means it became even easier to convince me we all needed a treat, (that and discovering the amazing expresso ice cream that Lewis and I could not stop ourselves from ordering, even if it did cause me to lie in bed staring at the ceiling). However no WiFi helped to make us less distracted.
Not having access to the internet also meant I had to wait to share this tomato dish with you. Every year I bring the vegetables from my CSA share and my garden with us on vacation. This year that meant I had an entire flat of tomatoes for the week. I love being able to walk past the produce in the grocery store, smugly thinking of the produce I already have. At the local farm stands heirloom tomatoes are $7.99 a pound. As their value went up so did the responsibility. Just eating all of them on sandwiches or on a salad was not enough, neither was allowing them to go bad.
The baked tomato dish I prepared was simple, peeling them being the most complicated step. However the end result could be the center of your table, the main dish with a loaf of crusty bread and another vegetable. The flavor of the mayonnaise becomes more subtle and balanced after baking. It was subtle enough that Sebastian was happily eating the dish until Lewis said, "Mayonnaise as an ingredient. Who would have guessed." At which point Sebastian put down his fork and decided he was done with tomatoes and I of course glared at Lewis.
I added fresh thyme to the chopped scallions but you can play with the herbs you add. At home I would have baked it in a casserole dish, but there wasn't one in the cottage, so I used a cast iron pan. Now that I am at home I think I will use a casserole dish.
Baked Tomatoes with Cheese
Adapted from Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans, and Other Good Things: A Cookbook for When Your Garden Explodes
4 peeled tomatoes, or more or less depending on how many you want to serve (how to peel tomatoes)
1/2 to 1 Tbsp high quality mayonnaise per tomato half
1/2 to 1 tsp chopped scallions per tomato half (or more to taste)
fresh chopped thyme to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp grated sharp cheddar per tomato half
The amounts of toping are given as a range because tomatoes vary so much in size. Also, this is an easy rustic recipe, to your taste.
Preheat the oven to 325° and butter a casserole dish or cast iron skillet that will fit all the tomato halves.
Halve the tomatoes from top to bottom. Cut off a thin slice from rounded side of the tomato halves so the tomatoes will stand up better in the dish. remove the cores. Place the tomato halves in the buttered dish. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on each tomato half, sprinkle with scallions, thyme and freshly grated black pepper before topping each tomato with 1 to 2 Tbsp grated cheddar cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. When serving do not tell children about any ingredient they claim to dislike unless they ask a direct question. If your spouse spontaneously offers this information glare hard at him or her to bore a hole through their head.