BAKED TOMATOES: EVEN BETTER THAN BACON

by Sep 16, 2020

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

Originally, I only made these with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, but I now vary this according to mood.  My mood depends on whether I feel like going out to the store to get more Parmesan, or if I just want to use whatever I have here.  For this photo shoot, I decided to use Asiago cheese.  I also used a combination of fresh herbs from the pots on my deck instead of sticking to just oregano. I love to get creative and try new variations of some old family favorite recipes.

 Generally, I stay with Parmesan or Asiago cheese, but have occasionally even used feta.  Hmm, maybe I should even try fresh mozzarella to make a hot version of caprese salad. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it?

Just in case you are wondering, there are some differences between Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheese.  Asiago is moister than the other two.  I have found that I do not need to add olive oil on top when I use Asiago.  Asiago and Parmesan are both made from cow’s milk, but Parmesan is pressed and is a harder cheese, like Romano.  Romano is made from sheep’s milk and has a sharper taste than Parmesan or Asiago.

When I was growing up, I didn’t like uncooked tomatoes—must’ve been a texture problem, because I loved cooked tomatoes and tomato sauces.  My daughter was the same, but has successfully transitioned to a tomato loving adult, just like me (Hah! You are turning into your mother, Erika).

My oldest granddaughter, Kailyn, LOVES this side dish.  I think she would even eat these tomatoes rather than bacon. No– I am lying–she wouldn’t– but it is close!  This post is dedicated to you, Katydid!

You can prep this dish about an hour or two ahead of time, and just leave it on the counter until needed. If you get it ready much more before that, the tomatoes may start weeping and losing their juice. I do think it is vital to line the baking sheet with foil before making these.  Not only does it make your pan easier to clean, but it also makes it quicker to snitch some of the melted cheese off the pan before serving.  I can also guarantee that friends and family will fight over who gets to plate the baked tomatoes. They will all battle over the chance to snitch the extra oozy cheese that lands on the foil before it even gets to the table.

You can use any size tomato you like when making these.  My family loves the bite-size version I make with luscious plum or Roma tomatoes, and I often end up serving them as an appetizer.  Plum tomatoes also have a lower water content so they are a good choice to use when prepping this dish ahead.  But honestly any size will do.  Large heirloom, good old beefsteak, any kind of bush tomato works also but then those are best served as a side dish so you can use your knife and fork.  I don’t think I’ve ever tried this with cherry tomatoes—even I have my limits when fussing with food.

Freshly ground pepper enhances these little treats, but the cheese provides enough salt.  And you definitely want to grate your own fresh cheese.  I do use the pre-grated Parmesan in the green jar for certain recipes, but not for the this. I timed myself while grating this chunk of cheese (8 ounces, more than enough for the amount of tomatoes I had), and it only took 3 minutes. Of course, I always make a mess and end up with extra cheese on the counter, but then I get to savor the flavor of what is to come.  

Besides, we have a family saying, “If it lands on the counter when prepping- it is fair game. You get to eat it.” This is especially true when making chocolate chip cookies.

Once, when we had a loud, raucous, fun-filled family gathering, I was enjoying myself too much and forgot to set a timer for the tomatoes.  When I finally discovered the still cheesy but now “dried-tomato” version of this dish, everyone still dug in.  They all commented on how good it still was—such a sweet bunch of people who don’t always tell the truth. They must take after Allen.

Moral of the story, use a timer when having too much fun.

(Recipe modified from Eatingwell.com)

BAKED CHEESY TOMATOES

Ingredients:

  • 4 tomatoes, at least
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 1 teaspoon or more chopped fresh oregano or other fresh herb
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste, Optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Slice tomatoes as thick as you like. Place on foil-covered sheet pan with edges. Top with shredded cheese and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Bake until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Transfer tomatoes and any oozy cheese to a platter. Garnish with a fresh herb sprig if you have time before people start helping themselves.

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6 Comments

  1. Ina Wesenberg

    Thanks Anne, The food looks so good and the Tomatoes especially.
    Great Blog I will follow you!! Ina

    • akcooker

      Thank you, Ina; I appreciate it. Let me know if you try anything.

  2. Barb tanner

    I made these last night for dinner and both dave and i loved them!

    • akcooker

      Thank you, Barb; glad to hear it!

  3. Stephanie Bell

    I bought fresh ground parmesan so super eAsy to make. I chose not to use any olive oil. Recipe was delicious & my family loved it. 🙂

    • akcooker

      I am so glad you and your family like it! I agree that the olive oil is not necessary unless you really want to “gild the lily”.