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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tomato Candy and a Summer Salad


These oven-roasted tomatoes are just like candy: sweet,
soft and delicious.

A stretch of cooler days prompted me to put a pint of cherry tomatoes in the oven, and then I ate them all in one sitting.
(I advise making extra.)

Fresh tomatoes are good for us, but roasted tomatoes can be
even better. Compared to fresh ones, roasted ones have higher concentrations of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene.

I picked the fresh herbs from my window garden: basil, oregano, sage and lemon thyme. You can use any herbs you like.

Serve these tomatoes as a side dish or add them to anything,
from scrambled eggs to summer salads.

Tomato Candy

2 pints cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
2 tbsp fresh chopped herbs

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Toss the tomatoes with enough olive oil to coat and add them to a baking dish. Season the tomatoes with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Transfer them to the oven and bake until they start to brown, about 45 minutes to an hour.

While the tomatoes roast, finely chop the fresh herbs and place them in a glass or ceramic bowl.

Once the tomatoes are soft, shrunken and starting to brown, remove them from the oven and add them to the bowl. Stir until they are thoroughly coated with the chopped herbs.

Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in the fridge for future use.

A Summer Salad with Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This salad does require a few preparations, like soaking and cooking the beans and roasting the peppers and tomatoes.
But they can easily be done in advance with little effort.

1 cup dried garbanzo beans, sorted and soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
Sea salt
1 to 2 pints oven-roasted cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted and chopped olives, Kalamata or other
1 cup chopped roasted red pepper (I used 3 large halves)
1 organic lemon
Ground peppercorn
Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Rinse the soaked beans and transfer them to a pot. Cover the beans with plenty of water and add the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans until tender, about an hour. Once they are cooked, season the water generously with sea salt. Allow the beans to cool in the cooking water.

If you're making the beans ahead, store them in their cooking water in the fridge. (Pint-size Mason jars work well for storage and hold about as much as a can of beans.)

While the beans cook, roast the tomatoes, and broil and cool the bell peppers. Once the peppers are roasted and cooled, remove the skins. Do not rinse them. Chop the roasted peppers and add them to a large bowl, along with the roasted cherry tomatoes. Chop the olives and add them to the bowl as well.

Once the beans have cooled, drain them and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the beans to the bowl with the peppers, tomatoes and olives. Zest half of the lemon over the bowl, then season with ground peppercorn and a bit more sea salt. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top, about a tablespoon. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice, as much as you like. Toss everything together.

Just before serving, gently fold in the feta. Taste the salad and adjust any of the individual components if needed. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

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