It might be sunny and bright here in Dublin but make no mistake the season is changing. We're in that funny in-between time when there are leaves everywhere and you leave home without another layer at your peril but on a good day you're reaching for the sunscreen in the afternoon.
Foodwise it's the same - there are mushrooms and gourds at the market but we're still awash with salad leaves and tomatoes. I love it, there's so much variety and those chilly evenings call for a cosier sensibility at dinner time and I find myself turning on the oven most afternoons.
Roasting veg concentrates and caramelizes flavours and it has to be one of the simplest ways to prepare food. Tomatoes are one of my absolute favourites to cook this way. Even the anaemic supermarket ones come out of the oven tasty little flavour bombs that you can use as a starting point for so many dishes.
Low and slow is the way to do it and I like a leisurely 3 hour session at about 150 degrees. Cherry varieties can go in as is and look lovely served on the vine. Other, bigger varieties can be halved or quartered. I generally do at least 2 kilos at a time - trust me, you won't regret it.
Olive oil (obviously) and salt to start with. Then, herbs like oregano, fennel (less is more with this one) and thyme and a little chopped chilli (fresh or dried) to taste. Roast whole garlic cloves alongside which will perfume the tomatoes and are gorgeous spread on toast afterwards.
Some more olive oil and a little balsamic or red wine vinegar. Be sure and scrape out the roasting tray and add this to the tomatoes when they come out of the oven. I often add some more olive oil to the pan to be sure I get everything off. After that, a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar will give you a nice bit of acidity to round things out.
Which olive oil should I use with roasted tomatoes?
Picual is a very good bet because it has notes of tomato and that lovely peppery finish which really brings out the flavours.
How to eat them
With everything is the simple answer but here are some ideas for turning your roasted tomatoes into a meal. These aren't really recipes so feel free to tweak as you please.
Either roughly chop or blitz them in a blender for a ten second pasta sauce. Add a little single cream for something a little bit more lush then some torn basil leaves if you have them.
Add greens - a handful of baby spinach per person, some steamed tender stem broccoli, charred peppers, green beans, charred courgette rounds.
Ricotta - dollop about 1 tablespoon per person into the pasta and tomatoes before serving. Throw in some basil leaves if you have them then serve with Parmesan.
Add torn black olives and or capers
Add Parmesan shavings
Serve alongside your favourite grilled fish (ideally still on the vine) or blitz and use as a base for the fish on the plate.
Roughly chop or blitz then stir through a bowl of steamed green beans.
With baked potatoes and aioli (possibly my favourite comfort ever)
With fried or roast potatoes and rosemary
Grains, Beans and Salads
Mix with rice, orzo or giant cous cous with feta, pinenuts and herbs and use to stuff baked peppers.
Stir through cous cous or quinoa then toss with rocket, avocado and balsamic
Toss with Puy lentils with goat's cheese and sherry vinegar
With a tin of butterbeans or chickpeas.
With avocado and red onions
Spread with some garlicy labneh then top with roast tomatoes
Spread with smashed avocado then top with roast tomatoes
Smash the tomatoes then spread over toast and top with goat's or feta cheese. Toast under a hot grill until slightly charred.
I could on but you get the idea. Now is the time, cheap and plentiful tomatoes rarely taste better . Enjoy x