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Baked Tomatoes with Cheese and Thyme

(recipe, Nigel Slater)


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Introduction

The first time I made this, I discovered a wealth of delights: the way the tomato holds the little cheese like an eggcup holds an egg; the point at which the juice of the tomato and the melted cheese meet; the subtle difference in smell and flavor depending on which cheese you use. Two of these tomatoes are lunch for me if there is something else on the table — a couscous salad, perhaps, or some bread and salami. Others may want more.

Ingredients

  1. 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  2. Olive oil
  3. 4 or 5 bushy sprigs of thyme
  4. 2 small fresh goat cheeses or other cheeses

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a thick slice from the top of each tomato. Using a teaspoon, scoop out enough of the seeds and flesh to make room for half of a goat cheese (don't add the cheese yet). Put them snugly in an ovenproof baking dish, salt and pepper the inside, and add a teaspoon or so of olive oil to each one. Pull the leaves from the thyme and sprinkle them inside the tomatoes.
  2. Bake the tomatoes for 25 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly colored. Slice the cheeses in half if they are small, or in large pieces if they are larger than the diameter of the hollow. Whatever, just make the cheese fit into the tomatoes. Spoon a little oil from each tomato over the melted cheese, or add fresh oil if it has escaped, then return to the oven for 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.