TOMATOES. Just the sound of the word gets me salivating and roasting them, especially this time of the year when they are seasonal just concentrates and intensifies their flavor. A ton of flavor can be brought out of them by simply roasting them. Do you really think you can’t do it as well as you had them in a restaurant? Of course you can do it. All you need is a pint or two of grape or cherry tomatoes, off the vine, on the vine, it doesn’t matter. Crank your oven up and have a few other ingredients on hand. My view of Italian cuisine is that there is more simplicity to most of it’s dishes than complex ingredients and techniques. What are some ways to used your home roasted tomatoes? Glad you asked. Toss them with drained pasta, either dried or fresh pasta. Add a good grated cheese, and don’t stop at Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino. Provolone, Ricotta Salata, Scamorza, Smoked Scamorza, Mozzarella, Asiago, Grana Padano, Caciocavallo, Caciotta, just to name a few will all enhance that dish. A little peperoncino or Anchovy filet are awesome too. But, I digress. This roasted dish at room temperature (it’s best temperature to enjoy it fully) is a wonderful sidedish or part of an antipasto or a vegetable plate. Serve the tomatoes with a delicious fresh mozzarella or burrata …THAT’S A TREAT!!!!. They even go wonderfully on toasted slices of bread (bruschetta or crostini) as a starter. Have I convinced you yet on how this one recipe will open up many options for you?
For a lb of pasta or nice side or platter with cheese let’s start with 2 pts of CLEANED, RINSED, AND ABOVE ALL, DRIED OFF Cherry or Grape Tomatoes. This is a key point in basic cooking technique. You do not want the tomatoes to steam at all and moisture on the outside will not roast them as well as if they are dried. Not to self…have paper towels handy at all time, indispensible kitchen tool.
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. crumbled dried oregano, crumble them between the palms of your CLEAN hands till it becomes a “powder”.
3/4 tsp. of Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
1 clove sliced garlic
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl mix the olive oil, salt, and oregano, then add the tomatoes till they are all coated. Empty the bowl into a baking sheet and have only one layer of tomatoes (do not let any sit on top of each other). Into the oven they go for 10 minutes. Add the garlic at this point, then gently rotate the pan and roast for another 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.Here’s where a recipe will sometimes fail you. I don’t have your oven nor do I know how it’s calibrated. The most important cooking tip I can give is that your eyes and sense of smell are your most precise cooking tools. Your oven may be hotter or cooler than mine so these times are approximate. It’s a pretty quick cooking time that can go from perfect to burnt in a NYC minute. Stay in the kitchen with this and just keep an eye on it. You want to have a nicely caramelized and soft tomato. Not burnt. Make sure at all times that the tomatoes are not burning. Tomatoes are fruit and they do contain a high amount of natural sugar which means they will burn. This is easy but needs you to pay attention. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes before using them.
Toss in fresh basil or oregano or (pick your herb) at this point if you like. Or leave as is, it’s pure tomato love. The tomatoes are the star here, not garlic, not the herbs, so, that’s where I like this dish to be..tomato rich with a few background supporting ingredients.
Have fun with this and I think it will become a popular go-to dish for you.