molten grilled tomatoes

Howdy, pardners.  I’m just going to keep the tomato recipes a-comin’.  And a few more on pickles, which I am pondering.  The beef jerky, which has been waiting for a month, will have to continue to wait.  It’s shelf-stable.

I’m so in love with the late summer Willamette Valley, but it’s been a tough, mostly indoor summer for me, so it’s more like unrequited love.  But surfacing this weekend reminded me how gorgeous the produce is, and how you really can thrive on meaty, acidic, juicy, deep red tomatoes for weeks.  I’ve been eating sliced Willamette tomato salads for dinner, comprised of um, tomatoes.  And salt.  Today, I branched out a bit because Retrogrouch is back and made a cherry tomato and herb salad with a very tiny bit of sherry vinaigrette.

But I digress.

These molten tomatoes are a family recipe, a summer BBQ recipe invented by my dad and modified by me.  It’s messy, sticky sweet, and oozy, so it’s not really fancy cocktail food, but who wants fancy cocktail food in the dog days of summer? His recipe is terrific, even with the parmesan in the green can (which I confess we use when we’re camping and don’t feel like grating cheese), but it’s even better with parmesano reggiano. It’s even good with sub-par tomatoes. You can omit the butter and red pepper flakes, but they do add an important dimension of flavor.

It’s critical to use good-quality foil so the boats don’t fall apart. Lots of liquid will be inside the packet. What’s particularly nice is that these tomatoes go well with any kind of meat, and their juiciness helps dry cuts like chicken breasts.

Molten Grilled Tomatoes

Serves: 2-4 (one or two tomatoes per person)

  • 4 medium-sized, perfectly ripe, round, meaty tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (fresh is best)
  • 1 T. butter, cubed into four pieces
  • 1-2 T. honey
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Make foil packet: Using a wide bowl, mold the foil to the bowl, leaving plenty up top to seal the packet. The bowl will provide shape and structure, as well as assist in moving the tomatoes to the grill.

Slice tops off tomatoes and score tomatoes, cutting a checkerboard pattern about halfway down (don’t cut through bottom). Place tomatoes in foil packet. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste, then add a blob (maybe 1/2 t.?) honey on top of each tomato. Mound grated parmesan cheese on top of each tomato about 1 inch high, then place pat of butter on each mound. Seal foil packet and grill over medium fire, enough to carmelize the bottom but not enough to burn, for about 30 minutes. Serve with bread.


The picture to the left is a variation using yellow plum tomatoes from my garden last year that were a bit too mealy to eat out-of-hand. You can easily use roma tomatoes, halved (allow for a few more per person). I added thinly sliced red peppers and basil before grilling. Probably better to add the basil after grilling, since it turned brown.

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