Fabrizia brought with a jar of special tomato paste: estratto di pomodoro. It is a concentrated paste of tomato puree that is made from ripe sun-dried tomatoes under the Sicilian sun. The tomatoes were grown and sun-dried at her family's estate. The jar got passed around with spoons, and everyone took a little to try. The tomato paste (it seems unjust to call it a "paste") was unlike the typical tomato paste. It was a thick paste in a deep burgundy color, and the flavor was so intense, and a little bit goes a long way.
Since this cooking class, I've been on the search for authentic Sicilian tomato paste. ;) I haven't found it yet, but the hunt is part of the fun, right? Well, meanwhile, we are hitting the peak of summer, which means the tomatoes are ripe.
I felt inspired to cook with tomatoes since trying that Sicilian paste. When cooking with tomatoes, I think that simple is good, and fewer ingredients are even better because it allows the tomato flavor to take center stage and shine.
It was time to try making oven roasted tomatoes. With "simple is good" in mind, I tossed some cherry tomatoes and garlic gloves with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil, and I roasted this combo in my oven for about 2 1/2 hours. You could certainly skip the garlic, but roasting the garlic helps infuse some additional flavor into those cherry tomatoes. While the tomatoes roasted, my whole house had that wonderful tomato-garlic aroma.
These roasted cherry tomatoes will add bold flavor to any dish. They will be great in pasta dishes, salads, or even just on their own. Keeping the "simple is good" theme, I tossed some on some grilled flatbread with a drizzle of olive oil. It made a great appetizer!
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
3-5 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Any other desired seasonings, like basil
Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
Slice the tomatoes into half, and put into a medium sized mixing bowl. After you finish slicing all of the tomatoes, add the garlic cloves to the bowl, drizzle the olive oil over the garlic and tomatoes, and throw in a pinch of black pepper and about two pinches of salt. (Add any other desired seasonings; I added about 1/2 tsp. of dried basil.) Stir the tomatoes so that the olive oil and seasonings are well incorporated.
Pour the tomato mixture over the baking sheet, and place it in the oven. You will bake the tomatoes for about 2 1/2 hours, so check on the tomatoes half-way and rotate them. The tomatoes are done when they are very shriveled and look almost dry. Plus, you'll know the tomatoes are done when your house smells good! :)
Enjoy them right away, or allow the tomatoes to completely cool before storing in the refrigerating.
Source: A Simply Sweet Justice original