Le Tomato-Love, a la Jacques

The Flavel Street “farm” has one crop…tomatoes. (K grows pumpkins but primarily for their big, showy leaves that he lets run rampant across the lawn. We’ve never actually eaten one…he grows attached. That would be a-kin [heh] to murder.)

But back to tomatoes.

It’s been a weird year. Some people had blight before the fruit could ripen, we had the smallest crop on record. And the earliest. It seemed that ours were the only plants to hit their stride in mid-July (see photo below); oh how we cackled with glee over the 2009 plan to under-water. It was working! True, the plants were sad, bedraggled little things, but the tomatoes were delicious, early (for Portland’s wet spring), nicely sized, with skins not overly tough (as ours usually are). But then…

The fruit got smaller and smaller until normally small Stupice shrank to the size of cherry tomatoes. The beefsteak? Roughly the size of a golf ball. Lemon boy? Like a junior baseball.

The flowers? Very few flowers. And by mid-August, very few tomatoes.

We started sneaking water.

Then madly dousing to coax along the few green ones left on the vines.


We have a healthy crop of Romas on the way, the Sun Gold’s continue indestructable as usual, and time will tell if the others rally. With the extreme heat, this may not have been the year to experiment, but really, can one complain about a steady stream of delicious fruit over several months? And as ours peter out? I figure friends will be looking for a home for their excess.

For YOUR extras, here’s one of my favorite Jacques Pepin recipes from 1992’s Today’s Gourmet. I’ve made it countless times, and the proportions and herbs are endlessly forgiving and flexible. I’ve even cut up regular tomatoes to make up the difference, if the cherries measure short. Bon appetite!

Cherry Tomato Gratin
1 1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes (approx 3.5 cups)
3 oz day-old french bread (about 3.5 cups) cut into 1″ cubes
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced (about 2 T) (interesting; had forgotten these were sliced. I’ve always chopped)
1/2 cup coursely chopped flat-leaf parsley (mixing basil and parsley is nice)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 T virgin olive oil (I use a bit more, usually)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (even good w/o this)


Preheat the over to 375. Wash tomatoes and discard stems. Mix tomatoes and all ingredients in a bowl. Transfer the mixture to a 6-cup oven-proof dish. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, serve immediately.

Four servings: 185 calories; 6 gm protein; 21 gm carbohydrates; 9.4 grams fat; 2.1 grams saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 506 mg sodium.


  1. bb Said,

    August 22, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

    How did you know I needed a tomato dish for tomorrow’s dinner? I will proudly give full credit for the inspiration.
    Maybe you send your “muscle” over to coax some rouge into my tomatoes who remain defiantly green, flouting the laws of nature with their refusal to ripen!
    btw- FANTASTIC pic at the top!!!

  2. Richard Said,

    August 22, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

    I swear I was *just* staring at my cherry tomatoes and trying to remember that knee-bucklingly delicious thing you do with ’em … and here it is.


    (also, yes – gorgeous food-porn tomato shot up there. :)

  3. Twitter Trackbacks for Le Tomato-Love, a la Jacques | A Year in the Slow Lane [denisedellasantina.com] on Topsy.com Said,

    August 24, 2009 @ 4:48 am

    […] Le Tomato-Love, a la Jacques | A Year in the Slow Lane http://www.denisedellasantina.com/?p=842 – view page – cached The Flavel Street Farm has one crop…tomatoes. (K grows pumpkins but primarily for their big, showy leaves that he lets run rampant across the lawn. We’ve — From the page […]

  4. Cyn Said,

    August 25, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

    I made, what I thought was your dish for my friends…I see I was quite far from yours but, as you say, such a forgiving recipe! I tossed paprsley, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, parmesan and bread crumbs with cherry tomatoes, baked till they popped. More of a gratin, I guess. Everyone love them but then, there’s YOUR (and Jacques’) recipe. They would have swooned over that one. I did!

  5. dds Said,

    August 25, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

    BB: Yay! Glad it was worthy to accompany your lamb.

    Richard: “knee-bucklingly delicious thing”…the highest praise ever! Buckles my knees just to hear it, even if all praise goes to Mssr. Pepin. Let me know how it goes down at Hoppy House.

    Cyn: What you made sounds exactly right! As I said, I haven’t followed the recipe in a decade, so who knows how close mine is to the real thing any more.

    All: Credit for the uncharactaristically good photo goes to Leslie. While I took the shot, her gorgeous photography during her visit to Pdx inspired me to try harder. Please see her photos at http://tinyurl.com/mfyjzw, click on the slideshow, and let them wash over you.

  6. Chrisitne Martell Said,

    August 25, 2009 @ 5:46 pm

    I thought it was the new dirt I bought that was making my tomatoes weird. Good to know I am not the only one.

    I adore that recipe, one of my favorites also. Hard to stop eating it.

  7. Leslie Said,

    September 1, 2009 @ 11:13 am

    aw shucks, D, give yourSELF the credit for that lovely shot, my dear :) and – HEY!- when is our next photo journey day, huh? you coming down anytime soon? pretty please? and has B talked to you about a certain adventure next year yet? if not, force it out of her toot sweet ;)

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