Heirloom Tomato Flognarde

June 19, 2009

A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.
~Laurie Colwin

A curious word for a dish: flognarde. Sounds like some form of physiological aberration or flagelum, even a particular variety of birch rod. But, I do like the way it rolls off the tongue. The “gn” like oignon, agneau or bagnoire followed by the letter “r” which is arguably one of the more difficult consonants to properly articulate in the French tongue.

Last weekend I learned that heirlooms will be making their seasonal opening act at the local farmers’ market on Saturday. That not only brought a smile, but it signaled the beginning of a long stretch of culinary ecstasy and sounded a change in daily eating habits. While we do lack an ocean or mountains—something that becomes unnerving at times—we do have a tomato season which is worthy of worship.

Handed down for generations, Cherokee Purples, Green Zebras, Brandywines et. al.,…these tomatoes are heirloom plants, which are open pollinated (non-hybrid) cultivars. Heirloom varieties have been commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but were eschewed by modern agribusiness. The relatively recent revival of these jewels at city markets has been nothing less than a blessing. They possess a rich tapestry of colors, coupled with a diversity and depth of flavors that is tough to match in the food world.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO FLOGNARDE

2 lbs ripe multihued heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded, peeled and quartered
3 large organic, free range eggs
2 large organic, free range egg yolks
1/3 C heavy whipping cream
1/3 C gruyère, grated
1/3 C parmigiano reggiano, grated
1 t fresh rosemary, stemmed and finely chopped
1 t fresh thyme, stemmed and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F

Drain the tomatoes on paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Make sure they are fully free of juices before proceeding. In a bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, cream, and half of the cheeses and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and whisk together. Layer the tomatoes in a baking dish, then cover with the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and herbs.

Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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