Monday, May 24, 2010

Roasted cherry tomatoes and summer on my mind

Summer is just around the corner and I couldn't be happier.   A relaxing day on the beach with a few friends or a good book followed by a Jersey fresh meal and some cocktails on the porch is about as good as it gets.  Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the season in south jersey, where summer brings long beach days, boardwalk bike rides, refreshing drinks, fresh seafood, delicious produce, and loads of tourists or, as they're affectionately called by locals, shoobies (supposedly named for folks who would come down for the day and bring their lunch in shoe boxes).  
It also brings the summer mentality of just needing to be outside on those sunny, cloudless days when you think the sun might never go down--soaking up every possible ray of sunlight because we all know how dark and cold the winter will be.  But when the sun goes down on a hot summer day and you pick up your beach chair, walk off the beach, and head back to your house for some fresh seafood, corn on the cob and stewed tomatoes (yum!), there is no doubt in your mind that life is good.

It's not quite summer yet, but I saw these cherry tomatoes and had a hankering for something that would give me my fix until I get to have the real deal.  I feel like I've been waiting all year for fresh Jersey tomatoes and I still have a couple of months to go! This year, for the first time, we are growing our own tomatoes and I am so excited.
My official taste-tester and supportive boyfriend , Adam, has been tending a vegetable garden that is starting to look rather impressive.  We've got kale, collards, and cucumber coming up strong along with two different kinds of peppers, some fresh herbs, and the aforementioned tomatoes.  I've posted some pictures from a couple of weeks ago of our cucumbers sprouting up and of the trellis that Adam built out of bamboo.
Cherry tomatoes can sometimes lack in flavor but when they're roasted in the oven this way, they're sweetness just pops.  They're perfectly delicious by themselves but they also work well tossed into pasta or served over garlic bread.
I don't know if I can wait until August for those juicy, plump, just-bite-right-into Jersey tomatoes but, alas, I guess I'll have to.  For now, though, these little guys will hold me over.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Ina Garten

2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a large bowl, toss cherry tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together so that the tomatoes are evenly coated.  Pour all of the contents of the bowl onto a baking sheet making sure the tomatoes are in a single layer.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tomatoes start to burst, rotating the pan after about ten minutes to ensure even cooking.

When the tomatoes are done, place in a serving bowl and toss with freshly chopped basil.  If you want to take it one extra step, you can cook the excess juice from the pan in a saucepan over medium heat until slightly reduced and then pour over tomatoes.  Reducing the juice will create a thicker, more concentrated sauce for the tomatoes but it is completely optional.

Serve as a side dish to a summer dinner or with garlic bread as an appetizer.

Serves 4-6.

No comments:

Post a Comment