Summer’s End: Tomato Gratin with Basil

August 19, 2015

Yeah, whatever, I know summer isn’t technically over, but I’m packing Miss M. off to school this morning, new shoes, new backpack and new lunchbox in tow. That means that summer is over as far as I’m concerned. Last night, we met her new teacher and she found her seat in the classroom and, as always, the noise and activity and excitement made me feel claustrophobic and desperate to get the Hell out of there. Do any other parents detest back-to-school night, or is it just me?

It’s probably just me. All of the other parents looked perfectly happy to be there and then there’s me, all sweaty and sulky.

I got lucky this year, because Miss D. doesn’t start school until tomorrow, so I have the whole day to sneak around corners and peek in on her, just pleased to have her near. I’ll take her out to lunch and try not to chatter her ear off, but I probably will. There will be last-ditch school shopping. I think a trip to the neighborhood chocolate shop is also in order, so we can surprise M. with after school cupcakes.

Thursday, when both girls are at school, Mozzy and I will go nuts because the house is so quiet. I know this because last year, the Mozz man was completely thrown off kilter with their absence. He kept wandering from room to room, sniffing at little shoes and whimpering at the door. He looked at me like, “Where my Homegirls at?” Then he nagged me incessantly for love and attention. I didn’t get anything done for an entire week; let’s hope he adjusts a little quicker this fall, okay?

August may have stolen my daytime companions, but at least I still have summer tomatoes. The world isn’t that cruel. I can at least take solace in a few more tomato sandwiches before the pumpkin spice everything begins. I do love autumn, but does everyone have to be in such a friggin’ rush? I want to enjoy my last few weeks of tomatoes and sweet corn and juicy peaches. Pumpkin spice can bugger off for a while!

The last time I had my parents up for lunch, I made this tomato gratin, which was much more well-received than the weirdo “watermelon thingy.” This is a classic, straightforward recipe. The beauty is in its simplicity–there’s no need for fanfare or fuss–it’s all about showcasing those awesome farmstand tomatoes and fragrant basil. Bust out the good olive oil for this recipe; you won’t be sorry.

The only adjustment I’ll make when I cook this again, and I will, is to double the amount of Parmesan cheese in the topping. I understand that Cooking Light tries to be judicious with things like dairy and fat and cheese, but I like a gratin with a bit more cheesy oomph. To me, gratin = cheese. I’m not going to skimp on the cheese and heck, this is a pretty healthy dish anyways, so cheese it up without guilt.

This morning when I lurched out to grab the newspaper, there was the slightest bite of coolness in the air. It’s almost like summer is warning me that she’s planning her escape.

Not just yet, though.

I still have more tomatoes to eat.





Summer Tomato Gratin with Basil

serves 8

 slightly adapted from Cooking Light Magazine


2 (1-0unce) slices while-grain bread

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

scant 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1-2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4-1/2 cup)

4 pounds ripe sweet tomatoes, mixed colors if possible

1/3 cup torn basil leaves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 minced garlic cloves

1 large shallot, finely diced

basil leaves for garnish


Preheat oven to 400.

Tear bread to form coarse crumbs. Spread crumbs in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 3 minutes or until they’re lightly toasted. Combine breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, a dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Set aside.

Cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices. place tomatoes in a shallow dish and sprinkle with a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, the basil, garlic, and shallot. Toss gently to coat.

Arrange tomato slices in a shallow 3-to-4 quart glass or ceramic baking dish or gratin dish. Pour over any liquid from the bowl over tomatoes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the tomatoes and return to the oven for 10 more minutes or until the mixture is golden. Remove dish from oven; let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

S in AK August 19, 2015 at 9:21 am

Shopping for tomatoes will help me forget the empty house and making this might even cheer me. Thanks for the recipe. I’m off to the store!


Biz August 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm

You can never have too much cheese! Just sayin’ :D

Hope both girls like their classes this year – Hannah is going back to college next week after taken (ahem) a year and a half off. Do you think I should put her first day of school pic on Facebook?! Not joking – next year I will have my 30th high school reunion and one of my classmates just posted a pic of their kid starting kindergarten – I don’t think I could handle that at 47!


Tiffany August 26, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Here’s hoping everyone is adjusting to the new routine!


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