Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oven-Roasted Parmesan Tomatoes

I needed a veggie side to go with our parmesan tilapia dinner, and I had some extra tomatoes in the fridge, so these delicious little treats were born :)

They are roast-y on the outside and juicy on the inside. They have a delicious golden parmesan crust and a little sprinkle of basil adds a big complimentary punch of flavor. Absolutely beautiful.

Tomatoes are even better for you when they are cooked anyway! A lot of people are worried about losing nutrients when they cook their fruits and veggies, but tomatoes are actually more powerful for you when they are cooked. That's why it's commonly recommended to include red pasta sauce into your weekly menu rotation, or canned tomatoes, tomato soup, ...any form of cooked tomatoe... like these warm little roasted tomatoes! :)
One of the great nutritional components of tomatoes is 'lycopene', and it is lycopene that is activated when heated/processed/cooked. In fact, the lycopene in a tomato is roughly 4 times more bioavailable when it is cooked (i.e. pasta sauce) rather than when eaten raw (i.e. in a salad). Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and is believed to possibly help prevent cancer -especially prostate cancer. It is found in several fruits and veggies (mostly red-orange colored ones) but is most well known in tomatoes since they contain such high levels of lycopene. Lycopene is also fat-soluble, which means the more olive oil you eat with it, the better it is absorbed into your body :)
So let's start oilin' and cookin' our tomatoes!...

Ingredient List:
  • Tomatoes (I used Romas, but I suppose you can use any firm ones that you like or that you already have on hand)
  • Olive Oil
  • Basil (I used crushed dried Basil, but you could use fresh as well)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Slice the tomatoes into about 1 inch slices. (To use the ends, slice just a tiny tip off each end of the tomato to give them a footprint to stand on and the open slice on top; see picture below)

Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Lay the tomato slices on the olive oil, and drizzle the tops of the tomato slices with olive oil as well, and a good sprinkling of basil.

Now top each tomato slice with a hearty pinch of Parmesan, and a little dash of black pepper.

Roast the tomatoes at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes so that the tomatoes get roasty and heated through, and the cheese melts on top. Then finish them off under the broiler for just a few minutes to give the cheese a golden, bubbly crust on top.

They are so simple yet so divine! Look at that beautiful roasted skin, the warm juicy inside, and the bubbly basily cheese :)

I served mine alongside parmesan tilapia and creamy risotto:

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