There are many approaches to this classic dish from Provence — the slow way on the stove-top, the quicker way in the oven, with or without breadcrumbs, with thyme instead of parsley, etc. For the purposes of an everyday French chef, the quick way works just fine and produces a classic version of the garlicky roasted tomatoes of southern France. Preparation takes 10 minutes, and then you can pop them into the oven and get on with the rest of the dinner while enjoying the intoxicating scents wafting through your kitchen.
Tomates provençales / Roasted tomatoes, Provence-style
I first tasted these tomatoes when I spent the summer in Avignon as a 19-year-old (let’s not mention the year). I was staying with a French family composed of the mother, the daughter, the newborn granddaughter, the dog and the 100-year-old tortoise named Caroline. Madame Bergier took in boarders because her husband had died and she needed the money. He had been a doctor in French colonial times, and their rambling house was filled with treasures from Africa, Indochina and the Middle East. There was notably a scimitar — call it a sword of Damocles — hanging above the entrance to my bedroom, and over the bed a huge red parchment parasol with little red pompoms all around. In this exotic ambience, dinnertime was a welcome return to southern French reality. I have been trying to replicate Mme Bergier’s fabulous roasted tomatoes ever since.