Serve versatile tomato crumble with lamb,chicken, steak, fish

Tomato crumble? I found that idea so enticing that my mouth watered at the thought.

I recently came across two recipes for such a dish. A friend sent me one, and I found the other in a French cookbook. In each version, diced tomatoes were seasoned with fresh herbs, covered with a combination of Parmesan cheese and bits of butter, then baked.

Tomatoes are at their peak now, so I came home from the grocery with a bagful and began cooking.

I halved and seeded the juicy red tomatoes, then cut them into chunks and spread them in a baking dish. Next I drizzled them with olive oil and tossed them with chopped basil and rosemary.

A topping of fresh bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pine nuts and butter completed the dish. Baked until the tomatoes were warm and bubbling and the coating golden and crisp, the savory crumble exploded with flavor.

I knew this simple side dish was versatile enough to use often when entertaining. In fact, after offering a taste to a neighbor who loves to cook and entertain as much as I do, she suggested that we host a dinner party together and include this special tomato invention.

The main course for our soiree included grilled lamb chops sprinkled with bits of blue cheese, an arugula salad and the colorful tomato crumble, which I baked several hours ahead, then reheated at serving time.

Although the tomatoes made a fine garnish to lamb, they would have been just as tempting alongside roasted chicken, grilled steaks or even sauteed halibut or cod.

Fortunately, the tomato season isn’t over, so I am planning to use this easy recipe several more times in the days ahead.

Tomato crumble

Olive oil

2½ to 3 pounds summer tomatoes (see note)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus sprigs for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish

1 teaspoon salt

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