Fresh food. Simple and seasonal. Mostly Mediterranean.
I feel so fortunate. My lovely mother-in-law, Monique, is one of the best cooks I know, and she has been spoiling us with fabulous meals during our visit to her home in Montpellier, France. She calls her cooking "simple," and she's modest about her immense talent. She grew up in Algeria and learned everything about cooking from her mother, an intuitive cook who had all of the wonderful Mediterranean ingredients within arm's reach. Here in Montpellier, the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France, just an overnight ferry away from Monique's birthplace, those same ingredients are also readily available. With them, she works her magic and every dish is divine. Last night, for example, she started us off with bite-sized puff pastry filled with garlic and anchovies and a beet salad drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette and garnished with chives. Then we moved on to lamb shanks, slow cooked in red wine, fresh thyme, and honey; perfectly cooked haricots verts, and one of my favorite of her recipes, Tomates a la Provençal. It's not quite tomato season back home, but here in southern France, they are appearing at markets right alongside the season's delectable cherries and apricots. So here's a recipe to whet your appetite for that the beloved and all-too-fleeting season of tomatoes. Bon Appetit!
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a food processor, combine garlic, parsley, bread, and salt and pepper. Do not over process. Set aside.
3. Heat a large saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and then the tomatoes.
4. Over low heat, cook tomatoes on each side for 2 minutes.
5. Transfer tomatoes to an oven-proof dish, sprinkle them with the bread crumb mixture, and bake them in the oven for 30 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.