Sometimes simple things are the best. One of my favorite “go to” meals is an easy one; pasta with raw chopped tomatoes, sliced Kalamata olives and goat cheese topped with a little high quality grated parmesan. For the pasta, I usually choose farfalle. I love the chewy texture with the fresh ingredients.
Sometimes, though I take this meal to the next level. I slow roast the tomatoes. I originally saw a recipe for “Very Baked Tomatoes” in The Café Beaujolais cookbook by Margaret Fox and John Bear (who eats there a lot!) I ate at Cafe Beaujolais http://www.cafebeaujolais.com/ years ago when I was in Mendocino for a pottery class.
I must admit, there's was the recipe I used for years. The only difference now is that I guess at the amounts, the cooking temperature and the time.
The original recipe calls for plum tomatoes. They really are the best because they are more meaty than juicy, but I don’t have them on hand often. More recently I buy grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or Campari tomatoes. I make this recipe when I need to use them up or they will go bad.
Tonight was the first time I tried the Campari tomatoes. They may not be the best because they are more watery and seedy than Roma’s but it works just fine with me.
So how do you make them? Well I use my toaster oven. I preheat it to 250. I have looked at a lot of recipes; some bake them at 200 degrees, some 350. The Café Beaujolais version says 325. I baked mine at 250. Sounded slow to me!
While the oven is preheating, I slice the tomatoes in half and place them on a baking tray cut side up. I drizzle a little olive oil over each half, chop up some garlic and distribute the pieces over each half and sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs from my garden. I almost always include rosemary and sometimes thyme. Dried herbs may work too but I prefer fresh. I might also sprinkle a bit of sea salt or pink salt over the tomatoes. Sometimes I don’t so you don’t have to.
That’s about it for the preparation. All you have to do then is bake the tomatoes until they break down, collapse and caramelize. I think the original recipe says bake at 325 for 2 hours but that is for the Romas, which are larger than the Campari tomatoes. I think I baked them for about an hour. The toughest part is waiting, watching and smelling the garlic and herbs as the tomatoes cook. (oh, and I am sorry I have no pictures. I ate them too quickly)
Once the tomatoes are done you have choices. One night I just ate them as a side dish with a piece of halibut. Tonight, I made my favorite meal. I cooked up some pasta, drained it and put a serving amount (1 cup) in a bowl. While still hot, I threw in small pieces of goat cheese (maybe ½ oz or less for one serving) chopped black Kalamata olives (tonight just black olives because that is what I had) and the yummy tomatoes.
This would be perfect but tonight I threw it all back in the pan after adding a small bit of sherry and some of the juices from the tomatoes. I heated it until all the cheese melted and the tomatoes broke up further making it a nice cheesy, tomato sauce. A sprinkle of Parmesan finished the dish.
Dinner served. Patron happy and well fed.
Some other ideas I haven’t tried but may;
The tomatoes chopped in an omelet or with scrambled eggs, a little fresh spinach and some feta.
Brushetta with slow baked tomatoes, perhaps?
Panini with slow baked tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.
You can be creative once you realize how tasty and versatile they are. I hope you will try these. They are a great use for the times when you know you can’t eat another salad and the tomatoes are at risk of going bad.
It would make me happy to know you have tried these and commented on how you liked them. I do hope you enjoy them!