I missed the organic farmers markets this week. Bummer. Work and life got in the way and so I found myself racing to Mother Natures Top Fruit Market (my Plan B) late Friday afternoon on my way home.
Organic vine ripened (truss) tomatoes greeted me with their swollen red bellies, plump and ready to be devoured raw with a sprinkle of sea salt. I carefully lowered bunch after ripe bunch into my cotton bag before making my way to the check out where a very happy lady smiled in approval at my hoard before handing me three free small fennel bulbs. Thank you very much! My head was spinning with tomato recipes and I could barely keep up as I loaded my heavy bag into the car and made my way home.
To my surprise (and delight), Byron greeted me with baked chicken, thyme and mushrooms in golden gluten free puff pastry blankets, thick slices of roasted salted eggplant, buttered corn on the cob and slightly crunchy stalks of vibrant green broccoli. Swoon.
I placed the bulging bag of tomatoes on the kitchen table and joined Byron in our garden for the delicious feast he had created. There's something special about love and food. You can always tell when meals have been prepared with love because it translates through in the flavours. The smell greets you and tempts you to taste, whilst the flavours amplify the love in some kind of mysterious, intoxicating way that can be appreciated at any age.
That's how he won me over, you know? With the best four course meal ever made for a girl on her birthday. But that's a story for another day… Today I'm going to skip ahead from this perfect meal to those patient little tomatoes spilling out of that soft bag. Truss tomatoes that were destined to be transformed three different ways, beginning with a gentle slow roasting…
Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander
Makes approximately 26 halves
1.5kg Truss tomatoes, vines removed.
1-2 Tbs Olive oil
Sea or Himalayan salt and ground coriander to season
Preheat your oven to 110 degrees Celsius (230 F). Rinse and dry the tomatoes, remove the stalks and halve lengthways. Place the halves into a large bowl, pour in the olive oil and toss to coat evenly. I love to use my fingers to do this!
Arrange tomato halves cut-side-up on a lined, large baking tray (omit the baking paper if the tray is non-stick) and sprinkle with sea salt and ground coriander.
This is a loose recipe, how much salt you choose to use it up to you but I find a generous amount, perhaps 1/4 of a teaspoon each of salt and ground coriander every four tomato halves should be sufficient. Play around with the recipe though, you may like to include some whole garlic cloves, gently smashed with the flat side of a knife and sprinkled between the tomato halves.
Roast, uncovered for 4 to 6 hours. I set my alarm for every two hours to check the tomatoes and turn the dish around in the oven. The tomatoes are cooked when they reduce to approximately half their original size, the edges crinkle similar to the top of patty cake paper cases and the middles are still juicy. Perfection!
Another handy hint: Use Roma tomatoes, they're less juicy and take less time to roast and Oh! The flavour!!
Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, before storing, covered in the fridge for up to one week.
These gorgeous slow roasted tomatoes are best served warm, on a taster plate before a meal, as a garnish to pasta with warm crusty bread and soft cheese or in the delicious pesto recipe below (which makes a fine pasta sauce with the addition of a little extra olive oil!).
Slow Roasted Tomato Pesto
1/3 cup Olive oil
1 generous pinch of salt
1 garlic clove
1 cup sweet basil
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooled slow roasted tomatoes (approx half the batch from the previous recipe)
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
In a high powered blender or food processor, combine the oil, salt and garlic. Pulse until the garlic resembles a chunky paste. Add the basil leaves and blend until smooth. Add the tomatoes and process, then finally add the parmesan and pulse until just combined. Taste, season further if required.
This pesto will keep in the fridge for up to one week in a sealed container. It's perfect as is, with a toasted baguette torn into chunks or as a tasty dip for crackers, olives and crumbly cheese.
As a pasta sauce, add a little more olive oil to thin the pesto, pulse and serve hot over your favourite pasta.
Byron chose to eat his with spinach and red pepper fettucini, extra shaved parmesan and a drizzle of oil to lift the pasta.
I served mine the same way, but with my favourite gluten free spaghetti. The only thing missing was a glass of red, but I guess that will have to wait until after Pecan arrives.
I've tried this pesto recipe using fresh tomatoes but it's nowhere near as good as this one. The slow roasted flavour adds an almost smokey sweetness to the pesto, kind of like the way a beautifully aged wine improves after it is allowed to breathe.
Do you recall the free fennel bulbs I was gifted at the fruit shop? Well as you can probably guess, I have yet another tomato recipe for you: A delicious tomato soup with fennel. I'll post it a little later but if you'd like a sneak peek, check out my instagram account @seaandsalt for a mouth-watering little snap (and feel free to follow me if you like, I've got a lotta instalove to give…).
Have you got Tomato Fever!!!? I think the recent peak in my tomato obsession may be due to pregnancy cravings, although I can't be sure. Do pregnancy cravings really exist? Perhaps it's the change in seasons. Something to ponder over my pesto pasta, ha ha.