Archives for August 2006

Pantry Essential: Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomato Story

Once upon a time, I took some baby tomatoes by the name of Campari home from my local mega-warehouse store. The tomatoes were small, but the container they sat in was not. I’d say they weighed somewhere in the 5-pound range.

Now, there are happy families out there who would’ve been pleased to slice those little babies into their giant family reunion buffet salad, perch them atop their backyard burgers, or throw them in the blender for a Sunday afternoon Bloody Mary bash.

But what I did is, I let them sit prettily in a basket on my countertop. I admired them for days and days, until they began to go all soft and stinky. And there might have been some minuscule, fluffy white mold spores forming on their smooth surface, like tiny snowflakes on Scarlett Johansson’s big red lips.

But, then I had a burst of inspiration – By gum, I would roast those ripe-going-on-compost tomatoes! I would save them from a raw and graphic ending in the InSinkErator and allow them to achieve their final glory: a warm, slow demise in my 275 degree oven!

And so dear readers, that is what I did. First I showered them briefly with salt and pepper, and lubed them with some olive oil. Two hours later, my kitchen smelled like my Italian grandma’s would on a Sunday afternoon, and there is something about that aroma that makes my mouth water.

Having a container of these tomatoes in your fridge can transform your life as you know it.

Pile some in a food processor with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and fresh basil and process until chunky. It’s a sweet little salsa-like condiment to stir into scrambled eggs or dollop on plain pasta.

“What can I eat for lunch?” you ask. How about sticking some of these tomatoes in a fresh mozzarella sandwich with a slice of prosciutto and some fresh basil leaves? Heat the sandwich on a griddle or your panini maker, and you have a sandwich that would make a Roman truck driver very jealous.

And what about dinner? Tonight I made them into a sauce for some fresh pasta (cavatelli, from Whole Foods) with my very favorite green vegetable, broccoli rabe.

So there’s the happy ending to today’s story, because nothing makes me happier than a big bowl of pasta.