THE STORY: I learned this stuff over the years from my mother-in-law, at her table and in her kitchen. Also from my wife’s cousins, at their amazing restaurant, Trattoria Delinda, in Spadarolo, just outside of Rimini. One afternoon, between lunch and dinner hours, I stood at the edge of the kitchen and watched Antonella prepare the gratinate, oven–roasted vegetables. So that’s how she does it, I thought.
In San Marino and around Romagna, they’ll sprinkle seasoned breadcrumbs on anything that grows in ground: tomato, zucchini, eggplant, onion, radicchio. In this recipe you’ll see tomatoes and zucchini. I wish you could smell them. I wish you could taste them.
THE NICHE: Side dish
PREP TIME: 20 min
COOK TIME: 2 hours
INGREDIENTS: Plain breadcrumbs, 2 cloves of garlic, 2-3 tbsp flat parsley, 5 tomatoes, olive oil, salt.
Do yourself a favor, season your bread crumbs. Look for plain bread crumbs at the grocery store of bakery. In a food processor, to a cup and half of plain breadcrumbs add a handful of flat parsley leaves, a couple cloves of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Activate said food processor to chop, mix, blenderize your filling.
Look for firm, medium-size tomatoes. A soft tomato will turn to mush in the oven. Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds. A little rinsing may be necessary.
Arrange the tomatoes on parchment paper laid over a flat cookie sheet. Lightly salt the tomatoes. Then till the cavities with your breadcrumb mix. Don’t pack or stuff the breadcrumbs. Be generous but not overbearing.
Bake at 350 for two hours. Serve warm or cool. Good in a sandwich the next day.