This bowl is piled high with summer tomatoes and thin, fresh asparagus. Hearty white beans turn it into a meal, and herbed breadcrumbs make it extra special. This perfect summer meal is cheap, quick, and healthy.
When I was a little kid, I used to think I hated tomatoes. This is probably because I’d never had a good tomato — which is odd, considering I grew up in a place that has really good produce all year. It might have also been because my mom keeps her tomatoes in the fridge.Like, still to this day, even though I’ve told her over and over not to. When I was up at her house a few weeks ago, I kept taking out her tomatoes and setting them on the counter, and then she’d put them back.
“Mom, your tomatoes are gonna get mealy.”
“Oh….is that why my tomatoes are always like that?”
As if I hadn’t told her that very thing many times. And she STILL put them in the fridge.
So maybe it’s not so weird that I hated tomatoes as a kid. I’d never had a good one. The kind that shoots juice up to the ceiling when you bite into it. The kind that doesn’t need salt (which is saying a lot, because I love salt). The kind that gleam like amber on the farm stand.
The kind that says, “summer is here, y’all!”
I needed to celebrate this glorious gift of produce.
I also wanted to make this dish cheap and healthy. I admit that I sometimes spend more than I should in the produce department, but the arrival of my new favorite cookbook, Frugal Vegan, inspired me to be more creative about how I use what I already have in the kitchen.
I’d made some GF pitas a few days ago, but hadn’t really touched them. Into the blender they went, yeilding fat, chunky breadcrumbs that toasted up beautifully. Please use fresh breadcrumbs for this recipe. It really does make a difference. Herbs from my sometimes-healthy garden gave them a full, rich flavor.
Some tomatoes from the farmer’s market, a bundle or two of thin asparagus, and a can white beans were collected from various corners of my kitchen. And that was pretty much it. Threw them all in a bowl with the breadcrumbs and a heap of parsley. Ring the dinner bell.
Summer Tomato Bowl with Herby Breadcrumbs
- 20 oz of grape tomatoes (about 4 cups), halved or quartered
- 3 cups of rough ground breadcrumbs
- 1 can of white beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 lbs asparagus
- 2 tbsp thyme
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 2-3 tsp garlic (depending on how garlicky you like things), crushed or grated
- a heaping cup of parsley
- zest from one lemon
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp each olive oil and earth balance
- optional, to serve: sliced avocado, lemon juice, tahini
- Heat the olive oil and earth balance in a pan over medium heat until olive oil shimmers and earth balance melts.
- While the pan is warming, toss together the breadcrumbs with the herbs (minus the parsley), garlic, and lemon zest. Add a pinch of salt and pepper
- Toss the breadcrumbs into the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 min, until the breadcrumbs are dark and toasty. The larger pieces should still be kind of soft in the middle. Add more salt to taste.
- Remove breadcrumbs from heat and set aside. Give the pan a quick wipedown.
- Chop the asparagus roughly into thirds or fourths, being sure to remove any woody ends.
- Add some water to the pan (about 2-3 tbsp), followed by half of the asparagus. Cover. Cook for 4-5 min, covered. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 more min.
- Repeat with remaining asparagus. This is done in two steps so as not to crowd the pan, and make sure it cooks evenly.
- When the second batch of asparagus is just about done, toss in the beans to warm.
- Toss the asparagus, the breadcrumbs, the beans, the tomatoes, and the parsley together in a bowl.
- Serve with love, and an optional topping of avocado, lemon juice, or tahini.