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Quick Vegetable Side Dish: Cheesy Parsley Baked Tomatoes

Tomatoes aren't at their peak yet, and most of the tomatoes arriving in the grocery stores in the North Atlantic region where I live are shipped from Mexico rather than arriving fresh from local farms. That means the tomatoes aren't that great--only mildly tomato-tasting. Nonetheless, the tomatoes in the stores are far less expensive than they were in the winter, and they can be turned into tasty side dishes. Cheesy Parsley Baked Tomatoes is quick to fix, and baking the tomatoes helps intensify their flavor, so that you have a dish that, surprise, actually tastes of tomatoes. Chopped parsley gives the tomatoes color and a little more freshness. Dusting the tomatoes with cheese, which melts and crisps as the tomatoes bake, makes the dish reminiscent of pizza (you can, of course, tell your kids they're pizza tomatoes, if you like), only far more nutritious. A light dusting of bread crumbs helps absorb some of the moisture from the tomatoes and also adds crunch. The side dish is a great option to pop in the oven alongside a main dish that you need to bake. Or if you want something special for brunch, serve the tomatoes alongside eggs for a special treat.

Cheesy Parsley Baked Tomatoes

Cheesy Parsley Baked Tomatoes -- Serves 4

3-4 large tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4 - 1/2-inch thick

1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper

1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup of soft breadcrumbs (from leftover bread--like sourdough!--is great)

1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line the baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray for easier cleanup. Lay the tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle them with the lemon pepper, then the parsley and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and then the cheddar cheese. Bake the tomatoes for 20-30 minutes or until they soften and the topping turns golden brown and a little crusty/crunchy. Let the tomatoes cool a few minutes before biting into them (they're hot!).

Cheesy Parsley Baked Tomatoes

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