"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Roasted Tomatoes: Tomatoes Provencal #French Fridays with Dorie

Roasted Tomatoes: Tomatoes Provencal: simplelivingeating.com


My backyard growing up bordered on Italy. Really... the courtyard in the back of my house was occupied by Italian immigrants. They all appeared to be old to me. The ladies in black dresses would spend their days playing pinochle outside when the weather was nice and tending to their gardens. Everyone grew tomatoes and everyone talked about tomatoes. Tomatoes are still my main topic of conversation with my mother and uncles in the summer. They are like children to Italians, the concern and attention tomatoes are given... 

"How are they doing?" 
"Not so good, it's been too dry."
"Well, water them more!"
"I don't want marks,... and the sun, not bright enough this summer."

This worrisome conversation continues until all the tomatoes in the garden are finally harvest.


Roasted Tomatoes: Tomatoes Provencal: simplelivingeating.com

I planted my first garden when I was seven. It consisted mostly of tomato plants. Mr Marcasie, who lived next door to me, taught me how to grow tomatoes the "old country" way. 


old woman and man: simplelivingeating.com
My grandmother and Mr Marcasie in my backyard. He always wore a jacket and tie. 

First you dig a hole for each plant and you put a few pieces of sardines in it, bones and all. Then you put the plant over the sardines and you cover up the roots with soil and make a mound around the base of each plant. I would also make a little trench around the mound, to help hold water. Tomatoes need water, but not too much, and lots of sunlight. When the plants got a little bigger and the weight of the tomatoes made them sag; I would stake each plant.


mother with babies: simplelivingeating.com
My mother with my sister and I in our backyard. I am the smaller one with the white shirt. Note the sheets drying on the clothes line!

If a green tomato fell off the plant I would take it inside and ripen it on the window sill and at the end of the season when the frost was about to come I would pick any tomatoes that were left on the plants and pickle them along with any eggplant we still had too. Tomato season is much shorter in Connecticut than it is in Southern Italy.


Roasted Tomatoes: Tomatoes Provencal: simplelivingeating.com

My mother primarily made marinara sauce with our garden tomatoes... jars and jars of sauce. But occasionally she would slice the tomatoes in half  and sprinkle them with oregano, olive oil, parmesan and bread crumbs and then bake them. It was always so amazing to me that intensely flavored summer tomatoes would became even more flavorful when they were baked.


father with children: simplelivingeating.com
Me on my father's lap with my sisters in the front of our house. 

This Tomatoes Provencal recipe is very similar to what I ate as a kid, minus the parmesan and breadcrumbs which is very Italian.


teenager with dog: simplelivingeating.com
My brother with our dog sitting on the picnic table in our backyard. 

In this recipe the tomatoes are halved, sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a mixture of fresh herbs. I baked them for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. We ate them with quiche,  and they really were a wonderful side dish... much milder without the cheese, nothing to clash with your main course. Really a lovely way to enjoy the summer's bounty of fresh tomatoes. 



Note: As a member of French Friday's with Dorie I am not allowed to print the recipe. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful cookbook "Around My French Table" if you are interested in this or any other recipe I review. 



Click here to see how the other Dorista's did.








                                This post is shared on the following food/craft parties.

25 comments:

  1. Love your memories, Diane! I have a feeling the raccoons would have a hay day if I planted my tomatoes over sardines, but I'm sure the plants would love that! We loved these, too!

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    1. Where I live now you could never fertilize the plants with fish, but where I grew up it was suburban/urban not many pests.

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  2. Oh, Diane, I just loved walking down Memory Lane with you and your family. You were a darling baby. The picture of your grandmother and Mr Marcasie is priceless. Just wonderful. The sardines??? Never had heard of that. We used to grow pretty tasty tomatoes in Iowa but didn't have many sardines lying around! I just pulled my Tomatoes Proven├žal out of the oven. They look exactly like yours. Am going to eat them as a main course tonight, with scrambled eggs tomorrow morning and then, I-don't-know-what. Please send your leftover quiche my way.

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    1. Food is so much part of my childhood memories and tomatoes are king in Italian households... no I couldn't image fertilizing with sardines in Iowa. I lived in a beach town so we had a lot of 'garbage fish" as they called it for gardening, though the Italians in the neighborhood loved eating sardines. Enjoy your tomatoes they are so good with eggs and anything cheesy.

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  3. What wonderful memories. My grandparents on my mother's side were born in Italy and immigrated to a very Italian neighborhood in Chicago when they were in their teens. My trips to visit them and my aunts and uncles when I was growing up sound similar, food was certainly always the primarly topic of conversation. And now, for the first time in my life, I am attempting to grow tomatoes... on an east facing balcony in Germany. It would seem that the odds are stacked against me, but I can relate to the obsesive nature of the task. I'm out there pretty much every morning before I go to work and every evening before I go to bed, checking on that darn tomato plant. Too bad I didn't hear about the sardine trick earlier:-)

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    1. I love it... tomatoes are in your blood good luck with them. Do use some kind of fertilizer they are going to need extra help if they don't get much sun.

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  4. Enjoyed your post and went 'really?' with the sardines! Raw or Cooked? I have no luck with tommies on my balcony, so I am desperate! LOL! Currently there are two Roma tomatoes (1 red and the other green) on my second tomato plant and I am waiting to chop it down to try again after that 2nd precious tomato ripens!

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    1. ps: I used my TP as topping (in place of sauce) for DH's pasta dinner with grilled cod fish and brocoli! Plate was clean!

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    2. It doesn't matter if the fish is raw or cooked. We tended to use cooked leftover pieces of fish, basically what you would compost. Coffee grinds and egg shells are also good for the plants.

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  5. Thanks for your suggestions about the tomatoes, they turned out perfect. My leftovers are going on pizza tonight.

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  6. I love when you connect food you make today to memories of food from your past. Love your throwback photos too. I really enjoyed this one and can't wait to try it again with local tomatoes. I served mine with a quiche as well. Perfect pairing!

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    1. Thanks Betsy,
      Yes, sometimes these dishes really bring back memories. I have already made this dish 3 times, my husband is so into it and it's easy... yes, the better the tomatoes the more intense the flavor.

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  7. I remember my mom canning jar after jar of tomatoes back when I was young - although, I am pretty sure no sardines were involved.
    This was an enjoyable post.

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    1. Oh, my mother's family was from Naples... straight tomato or meat sauce only. The sardines were only for growing the plants... now my Sicilian friends put sardines in everything!

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  8. What a great easy recipe, followed you here from the Moonlight & Mason link up.

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  9. I roast my tomatoes usually with a cilantro paste, but this sounds good too! Looking forward to trying it! Visiting from the Let's Get Real Blog Hop!

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  10. I loved reading this post, Diane! We put fish heads/carcasses in the planting holes...which is a bit stinky when your dog gets in the garden.

    I had to laugh about all the fretting over the welfare of the tomatoes. I do that all summer long!

    These Tomatoes Provencal are simple and delicious...the kind of dish that really lets the tomatoes shine.

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    1. It sounds like Louisana culture is a bit similar to Italian culture... glad you enjoy it. It is really wonderful to me when a dish connects so personally.

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  11. I loved reading your memories of growing up, Diane. I used to grow tomatoes with my Dad. We would always have a competition with my Grandpa for who could get the first ripe tomatoes on their plants. Your Roasted Tomatoes look absolutely mouthwatering. I'm definitely going to give them a try. Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop. Pinned and tweeted :-)

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    1. Thank you April. I love when food brings back such vivid memories. How fun a tomato competition... my family would have loved that idea.

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  12. What a great post and a great recipe! Pinned. We love having you be a part of our party. I hope to see you tonight at 7 pm. http://loulougirls.blogspot.com/
    Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

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  13. What a great post Diane, these Roasted Tomatoes look delicious. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

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  14. Hi Diane - I loved reading this, and the tomatoes look so delicious! Thanks for sharing with the Let's Get Real Party.

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  15. Love all the family photos and memories! These were simple and delicious. I think the traditional breadcrumb variety would be good, too, but Kevin was happy that these were so flavourful, gluten-free.

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    1. The Italian seasoned gluten free breadcrumbs from Alexa are pretty good if you ever want to make that version.

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