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Intensify cherry tomatoes’ flavor through roasting

  • CHICAGO TRIBUNE

    Cherry tomatoes can play multiple roles beyond the salad bowl.

When tomato season is in full swim, it doesn’t take long for gardeners to complain that they don’t know what to do with all their bounty.

Cherry tomatoes, especially, seem to ripen faster than we can eat them. But I have a solution. When you have tired of eating them raw, roast them.

It’s easy. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and some sea salt on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook in a 350-degree oven until soft and a little wrinkled.

Roasted tomatoes are transformed in the oven, acquiring intense umami flavor. As their sugars caramelize, they become both sweeter and more savory, with a jammy rather than juicy texture. Use warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate them up to a week for a variety of quick dishes. Here are a few:

>> Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta: In a skillet over medium, toast 1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 minced anchovies and 1 minced clove garlic. Toss with 12 ounces cooked pasta, 2 or more tablespoons olive oil, 1 pint roasted cherry tomatoes, a sprinkling of parsley, and salt and pepper.

>> Roasted Tomato and Bocconcini Salad: Combine a pint of roasted tomatoes with 8 ounces bocconcini (egg-sized mozzarella), 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup torn basil leaves, and salt and pepper.

>> Grilled Vegetables with Roasted Tomato Dressing: In blender, puree 1 cup roasted tomatoes, 1/2 clove garlic, 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over grilled zucchini and eggplant.

>> Roasted Tomato, Bacon, and Lettuce Bruschetta: Brush slices of country bread with olive oil and grill. Top with shredded lettuce, roasted tomatoes and crumbled bacon.

>> Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes: Top individual servings of polenta with roasted tomatoes, a few slices of grilled sausage and a sprinkling of feta or ricotta salata cheese.

>> Roasted Tomato Tart: Roll out a 14-ounce piece of all-butter puff pastry into a 9-inch-by-11-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Gently press a pint of roasted tomatoes into the pastry, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano, fresh thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Bake in 400-degree oven until edges are golden brown and pastry is puffed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Frittata with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On baking sheet, toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, thyme and salt to taste, and bake until soft and slightly shriveled, 20 to 25 minutes.

Preheat broiler and set rack about 6 inches from heat source.

In large, ovenproof nonstick skillet, warm remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-low. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes.

Whisk eggs with salt and pepper to taste. Pour evenly over mixture in skillet and stir gently to distribute tomatoes. Sprinkle with the goat cheese. Cook, using a thin spatula to occasionally loosen frittata from pan, until it is almost set in center and lightly browned on bottom, 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer skillet to broiler and cook, watching carefully to avoid burning, until top is dry and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Slide frittata onto a cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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