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Monday, August 29, 2011

Overloaded with Tomatoes

Ted's backyard garden is in full swing.  Every day he presents me with more tomatoes from his bountiful crop.  It's funny because Ted is a little disappointed that he isn't harvesting more tomatoes and I'm grateful for the slight slump in production.

So, the tomatoes were starting to pile up on the counter when I went to make dinner tonight.  We're also heavy on the basil around here and there's a limit to how much pesto I want to fill my freezer with.  It was time to make a serious tomato and pesto dish.

I actually love really simple food.  It tends to be really refreshing and, not surprisingly, requires little actual work.  In the winter I'm all about the complicated dishes that require 100 ingredients and hours of prep and cooking.  In the summer my idea of complicated cooking is making a marinade.   There is nothing faster and easier to make than roasted tomatoes with pesto.

Here's the thing.  A dish like this requires the absolute best ingredients you can find.  There's no masking a tasteless tomato or dull basil.  If you're not growing it yourself, pick the ingredients up at a farmers market.  You'll taste the difference.

This dish smacks of summertime.  And as the lazy days of summer are drawing to an end, I'm all for savoring those flavors just a little longer.

Recipe:  Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto
(Ina Garten)


2 to 2 1/2 pounds large red tomatoes
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup pesto, homemade is best (recipe follows)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Core the tomatoes and then slice them across (not through the stem) in 1/2 inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with the oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper.

Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, spread each slice with pesto, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Return the tomatoes to the oven and continue baking for 7 to 10 minutes, until the Parmesan is melted and begins to brown. Using a flat metal spatula, put the tomatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons diced garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use immediately or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. Makes 4 cups.

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