Thursday, August 15, 2013

Celebrating 101 Years of Julia Child with Tomates a la Provencale

August 15th may be one of my most favorite days on the calendar, because 101 years ago, on this very day, a little girl was born who was destined to change the face of food as we knew it.  Not just food in America, but perceptions of food across the globe.  That little girl who was never actually all that little, was none other than Julia Child.

Whether you're a Julia nerd like me, we all share in a piece of what she was all about by participating in the Crop Share program, and as Julia herself said, "You learn to cook so that you don't have to be a slave to recipes.  You get what's in season and you know what to do with it."  And that's why we're all here, eating, cooking and learning about all this wonderful seasonal produce so that we're not slaves to recipes or supermarket shelves, we can create our own magic with the bounty that the earth gives up each season.  So as we all raise our rolling pins and save the chicken liver in honor of what would have been Miss Julia's 101st birthday, here is her classic recipe for Tomates a la Provencale and then my quick gluten and dairy-free riff on it.  Bon Appetit!

Julia Child's Tomates a la Provencale

6 firm, ripe, red tomatoes about 3 inches in diameter
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 cloves mashed garlic
3 Tbsp minced shallots or green onions
4 Tbsp minced fresh basil and parsley, or parsley only
1/8 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
Big pinch of pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fine, white, dry bread crumbs
A shallow, oiled roasting pan just large enough to hold the tomatoes easily in one layer

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the stems, and cut the tomatoes in half crosswise.  Gently press out the juice and seeds.  Sprinkle the halves lightly with salt and pepper.

Blend all remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Correct seasoning.  Fill each tomato half with a spoon full or two of the mixture.  Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil.  Arrange the tomatoes in the roasting pan; do not crowd them.

Place in upper third of oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender but hold their shape, and the bread crumb filling has browned lightly.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

2-4 large, red tomatoes, tops sliced off and diced, insides scooped out and seeded
8 oz Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (or real dairy cream cheese)
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese through quinoa.  Mix well to incorporate.  Stir in diced tops of tomatoes, and then season mixture to taste with salt and pepper and hit it with a quick splash of olive oil.  Stuff each tomato till full with the quinoa mixture and place into a baking dish.  Drizzle tops with a smidge of olive oil and then bake in oven at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until tops are slightly browned and skin on the tomatoes has blistered a bit.

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