My favorite Big Little Recipes show all their cards in the title. For instance, chicken noodle soup (with just chicken and noodles) or chocolate–peanut butter mousse (with just chocolate and peanut butter). Or melty cheddar tomatoes (with just, well, you get the idea).
Pretty much any variety of tomato—except for cherry or grape, which are too small—will work here. Just make sure it’s in-season for the biggest flavor. The wedge size, too, is flexible. Larger wedges (figure 1 ½ inch–thick) will take slightly longer to cook, yielding meatier pieces, while thinner wedges (say, just under 1 inch) will soften and slouch quicker, ending up more delicate. Just give them a poke after a few minutes in the skillet and don’t overthink it.
Likewise, sharp cheddar can make way for mild, white or yellow. You could even substitute in another cheese if that’s all you have around—Monterey or pepper jack, provolone, Gruyère, anything that easily melts. (For that reason, steer clear of squeaky feta and halloumi, as well as crumbly-aged Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, in this case.)
This is one of our Big Little Recipes, our weekly column all about dishes with big flavor and little ingredient lists. Do you know (and love) a recipe that’s low in ask, high in reward? Let us know in the comments. —Emma Laperruque
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, then add the olive oil. When that’s shimmery and hot, add the tomatoes and shake the pan so they shuffle into a single layer. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and let them sizzle for about 3 minutes, or until they’re tender and starting to brown on the bottom. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to shuffle the tomatoes around, then cover completely with the grated cheese. As soon as most of it has melted, cut the heat. Serve straight out of the skillet with something starchy for soaking up the cheesy-tomatoey sauce.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.