I know everyone’s sick of hearing people say this, but seriously, where has the summer gone?? I’ve been seeing back to school ads everywhere lately and it’s freaking me out. So far this summer I’ve only had two beach days, zero pool days, less than a handful of bbqs, and my tan is pretty much gone. But what I’m most concerned about is how little cooking and baking I’ve done with summer produce before it all disappears! I totally missed strawberry season this year, and I’m determined not to let peach, corn, or tomato season disappear as quickly.
I’ve already professed my love for tomatoes, which I don’t think I could ever tire of eating, but with tomatoes popping up everywhere right now, you might get bored of the usual caprese salads and tomato sandwiches. This side dish is a simple way to highlight the flavour of summer tomatoes in a new and interesting way. It’s also super quick and easy – all you have to do is whip together a pesto then broil the tomatoes for a few minutes (or you can use a pre-made pesto to save you even more time!).
The recipe calls for nutritional yeast, which up until recently was completely foreign to me. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a strand of deactivated yeast (not to be confused with the active yeast you use in bread) that’s popular with a lot of vegetarians and vegans because it adds a boost of nutrients to meals and has a nutty, cheesy flavour that makes it great as a cheese substitute. In this recipe it’s used as a parmesan cheese substitute to top the tomatoes. You should be able to find it in the bulk section of health food stores, but if you can’t find it and have no problem with cheese, then just use parmesan cheese instead. I ended up using a mix of both, and also used Italian breadcrumbs (the storebought kind that has a mix of cheeses blended in) in place of the panko to add even more cheesy flavour. I also used walnuts instead of pine nuts simply because pine nuts are ridiculously expensive! Feel free to use the original ingredients though, or make your own substitutions – I bet mozzarella would be good on there too!
Broiled Pesto Tomatoes
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons pine nuts (or walnuts)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, cored and halved crosswise
About 3 tablespoons panko (or Italian) breadcrumbs
Place basil and garlic in food processor, and process until finely chopped. Add nuts and nutritional yeast (or parmesan), and process 1 minute, or until nuts are finely chopped and mixture is paste-like. With motor running, add olive oil in steady stream. Process one minute more, or until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Preheat oven to broil. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Spread each tomato half with about 2 teaspoons of the pesto, and sprinkle the tops with about 2 teaspoons of breadcrumbs. Add additional parmesan cheese on top if desired. Broil 3 to 5 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are browned and pesto is bubbly. Serve warm as a side dish.