I had no right to turn on my oven. It was a crazy hot day for Oregon.
A while ago I’d seen a recipe for cherry tomato clafouti. Traditionally a clafouti is a sweet dessert — classically made with cherries.
One of my favorite versions works with almost any fruit but I love it in spring with berries or in fall with pears. You basically put fruit into a pan, cover it with a thin custard/cake batter, and bake. It’s firmer than custard but softer than cake and it’s best to eat all in one sitting since it doesn’t age well. Perfect for a small dinner party.
The idea of that tomato clafouti got into my head, but it was before cherry tomatoes were yet in season. We’ve been getting a few in our weekly shares, but this week suddenly they were really available. For me, tomatoes are the reason for summer, so I bought loads more on Saturday. My eyes were bigger than my stomach.
Happily, I’ve been eating lots, but I still had a number of different colors of cherry tomatoes — orange, yellow, red, purple-red. Some were tiny. Some pretty large. All beautiful.
I remembered that clafouti. Where had I put it? Did I actually save it? A quick internet search found it on a PBS site.
Reading it, it seemed simple. You just needed a little less than 2 cups of tomatoes. I had lots more than that! I needed to get milk, heavy cream, and some cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and Monterey jack instead if the Comte of the original recipe) but I had eggs and thyme from my yard. Other than that, just a little flour, salt and pepper.
It came together super fast, goes in a standard cake pan (I hate springform pans!), and bakes about 32 minutes in my oven at 350 degrees.
It puffed up soufflé style as it baked. The cheese got a nice brown. As it set for a minute or two, it settled a little. Looked and smelled heavenly. The custard was firm to hold its shape but not as firm as a fritatta. As long as you like the taste of cooked tomato, it’s great. The texture is pleasing and the simple flavors of tomatoes, thyme, cheese and the savory “cake” go very well together. Served with a salad, it was a lovely way to celebrate local produce.
I have always loved a toasted bagel, fresh tomato, and melted cheese. This recipe brings a bread-y-ness to my favorites of tomato and cheese but in a new, exciting form. For me, heaven.
I’m not sure it’ll be good, but I’ll be eating it for breakfast tomorrow. We’ll see if it ages better than its same-named dessert cousin.
Even if it’s not good tomorrow, it’s still a keeper for a gathering without leftovers. I can’t wait to make it again for a group of hungry, tomato loving friends.
Clafouti original recipe: http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/cherry-tomato-clafoutis/.