My heart belongs to tomatoes. I love them raw, drizzled with good olive oil, burst in a fresh sauce for pasta, or pureed in a roasted soup with grilled cheese for dunking. So you can imagine my excitement a few days ago when I stopped by the farmer's market to pick up local, organic tomatoes for this recipe.

Today's dish lends itself to improvisation, especially when it comes to the topping. And I suppose this is the right forum to admit that, even though I posted the original recipe below, I made a few modifications myself. I just couldn't resist! I had a handful of toasted pine nuts from earlier in the day, so I added them, as well as more olive oil instead of melted butter, which I conveniently forgot because it was an extra step and extra bowl.

The warm tomatoes make the perfect vegetarian main course for a light spring dinner. I served mine with a salad of roasted asparagus, torn prosciutto, and a bright rose.

SAVORY TOMATO CRISP

From The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman (p. 423)

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
3 pounds ripe tomatoes (8-10 medium), cored and cut into wedges
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and black pepper
1 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole grain and homemade
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or crumbled feta or blue cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter

1. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square or round baking dish or a deep pie plate with oil; heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Put the tomato wedges in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cornstarch and some salt and pepper. Toss gently and let the mixture sit. In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pecans, garlic, cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, and butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir until thoroughly mixed.

3. Toss the tomato mixture again and transfer it to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Bake until the crisp is as dark as you like on top and bubbly underneath, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool to warm or room temperature before serving. To serve, scoop portions out with a large spoon.

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