Roasted Tomatoes—Slo-Mo & Provençaux

July 30, 2009

“Fragrant and summer-savory, roasted tomatoes are a sometimes underused sumptuous accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats, in pastas and soups, on pizzas, sandwiches, bruschettas or crostinis. The tomatoes caramelize in both versions to a certain sweetness. To life’s simple pleasures.”

(Shame on me—reached for the can. Was that tra-la-la-la-la or what? What was portrayed in that blurb was not inaccurate, but it seemed to clang like a clumsy TV jingle. A sign of sloth?…a memento to the Heidi-in-the-meadows like palaver found in too many cooking manuals including this one? Probably just a bad habit. Not that the expectations are lofty, literary or poetic. But, in this milieu, sometimes it is difficult to shed triteness when simple food speaks aloud. Food writing is about the interplay, ratios, and balances of the scents, flavors and textures of damn good food…but it is ironically displayed in two dimensional words. Is it more about cultures? history? regions? geography? clans? techniques? Why is the superficial layer chosen too often? Or is just that bone deep comfort which is mired in the sheer simplicity of ingredients, imagination and creation that we crave in cooking which does not demand elegant prose? I have my doubts and insecurities.)

SLOW ROASTED TOMATOES

Fresh local cherry or grape tomatoes, halved horizontally
Plump fresh garlic head, halved horizontallly
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried thyme
Dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 250 F

Arrange tomatoes and garlic halves on a parchment or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Bake the tomatoes in the oven until slightly shriveled and wrinkly on the outside and juicy on the inside, about three hours. The time will vary depending on tomato size and ripeness.

Serve immediately or let them cool, drizzle with some more olive oil and refrigerate in a shallow covered bowl.

PROVENCAL ROAST TOMATOES

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
8 firm fresh local heirloom tomatoes, seeded and halved horizontally

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Herbes de Provence
Fresh parsley, chopped finely
4 fresh, plump garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Parmigiano reggiano, grated

Preheat oven to 400 F

In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. When shimmering, add the tomatoes, cut side down. Do not crowd, so you may have to cook in batches. Sear the tomatoes until browned, almost caramelized, about 3 to 4 minutes. Cook remaining tomatoes in the same fashion. Transfer the tomatoes, cooked side up, to a large baking dish. Pour the juices from the skillet over the tomatoes evenly, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the Herbes de Provence, parsley and garlic.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, until browned on top and sizzling, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano reggiano.

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