brown tom

Lindsey Bareham

For brown, read bread and for tom, read tomato. This neat bit of recipe naming refers to a surprisingly elegant, highly seasoned gratin. The bread is crumbed and mixed with very finely chopped onion, parsley, basil and grated parmesan, and layered with peeled and sliced tomatoes. As it cooks — and the smells are indescribably good — it merges into soft, intensely flavoured succulence.

serves 4, prep 30 min, cook 35 min

1 kg vine tomatoes
150g brown bread without crust
2 onions
2 garlic clove
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
25g finely chopped flat leaf parsley
30g finely chopped basil
4 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
extra parmesan

Heat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, count to 40, drain, cut out the core, remove skin and slice. Crumb the bread in a food processor. Halve, peel and finely chop onions and garlic. Mix together crumbs, onion, garlic, herbs and parmesan and season generously with salt and pepper. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil to grease an approximately 25cm x 5cm metal oven dish (or something similar that holds two litres).

Spoon over a third of the bread mixture and top with half the tomatoes laid out evenly. Dribble with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover the tomatoes with another third of the bread mixture and then with remaining tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Finish with remaining bread mixture and dribble over remaining olive oil. Finally, cover the bread with thin slices of butter. Bake for 35 min in the middle of the hot oven or until the top is browned and crusty. Dust with more parmesan.