I love cooking with seasonal produce and this means that at this time of the year, tomatoes make a more than frequent appearance in our meals. The farmers’ market that I go to offers a multitude of varieties, all of which are ripe, plump and possess the most vibrant colour possible. My favourite is the kumato; sweet and juicy, this dark beauty is the perfect topping for bruschetta. And my daughter can’t get enough of it either.
I cannot resist picking up a few varieties of tomatoes every Saturday at my farmers’ market and even though I know I shouldn’t, I store them in the refrigerator to help them last to the end of the week because I just hate being pressured to use up tomatoes that are rapidly rotting on my counter.
Since the tomatoes I get this time of the year are at their best, I like to eat them raw; diced and marinated in a little balsamic vinegar, a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil and a liberal sprinkle of fleur de sel, it is a very simple but delicious way to prepare any kind of perfectly ripe tomatoes. They really have to be perfectly ripe in order to get away with no cooking whatsoever. Having said that, I bought a big basket of roma tomatoes last Saturday and decided to give them a good long roast in a low oven to coax out their natural sweetness.
All I did was to cut the tomatoes horizontally in half and arrange them cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. After drizzling over a little olive oil and nestling in a couple cloves of unpeeled garlic cloves in between the tomatoes, I slid the baking sheet into a 275 F degree oven and left it in there for 3 hours, after which the tomatoes miraculously transformed into bites of such intensified sweetness. In other words, they became candy. Seriously, just give it a try.
Because tomatoes and pasta go together like hand in glove to me, I tossed these wrinkly cubes of tomato candy with rotini for our dinner. To cut through the intense sweetness, I held back a couple of tomatoes so I could dice them up and add them raw to my pasta salad; the acidity provides a refreshing contrast. For the dressing, I thinly sliced a small shallot and whisked it with a little balsamic vinegar and enough extra virgin olive oil to make the pasta salad so much more silky and rich – about half a cup. As a final touch, lots of freshly ground black pepper and fleur de sel to taste.
My husband and I love slow roasted tomatoes, they taste amazing and make absolutely everything they are added to infinitely better. Surprisingly (or not), my kids, despite having a sweet tooth, hates them. Why??? They ate only the pasta and the little cubes of raw tomatoes. My husband certainly wasn’t complaining about that.