I love seeing my Peter watering our kitchen garden—picking ripe baby tomatoes fresh off the vine and eating them on the spot. It reminds me of the days when my father grew heirloom tomato varieties such as Grosse Lisse and Oxhearts in amongst his roses under the grapevines. He would pluck a handful of sun-ripened specimens, then call me to come to his side so that we could enjoy them together, there in the garden. Oh, I can still taste those beauties—fully ripe, warm, dripping with juicy goodness and bursting with flavour!
For the first time in a few seasons, it seems that we won't have a ton of self-sown grape tomatoes. Perhaps because Peter was travelling so much with work throughout the year and I had been so unwell, we didn't get time to dig any of the rich compost into the patch, as usual. However, we do have a few little store-bought tomato bushes coming on, so I'm on the lookout for interesting new ways of preparing them. This recipe is adapted from one in Vicki Lilley's book, Vegetables (Lansdowne, 2000). It's the perfect accompaniment to barbecued lamb backstrap and hummus. And I think will also add colour and cheer to our festive table. Best thing is that you can make the dish ahead and refrigerate it for a day or two before serving. And that's my kind of food!
TOMATOES ROASTED WITH GARLIC, LIME AND BALSAMIC
16 vine-ripened/truss tomatoes, stems intact
2 teaspoons sesame oil
juice of a lime or two
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
baby spinach leaves, to serve
lime wedges, to serve
Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Combine the sesame oil, lime juice, garlic and Balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and whisk well. Cut a small cross-shaped slit into the top of each tomato and then place the tomatoes onto a lined baking tray. Sprinkle the dressing over the tomatoes, making sure it gets into the slits you've cut, and season with the sea salt and cracked black pepper. Roast for an hour or so (keeping an eye, as you don't want the tomatoes to burn or completely disintegrate). Using silicon tongs or a wide spatula, transfer the tomatoes to a serving platter on which you have arranged a bed of baby spinach leaves. Dress with the juices from the roasting pan. Serve with wedges of lime. This dish can be served warm, from the oven, or made ahead of time and chilled. Serves 4. *I used La Barre caramelised balsamic, which is available from a stall at the Capital Region Farmer's Market.
Serve warm or make ahead and serve chilled...
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Tell me, do you enjoy eating ripe tomatoes fresh from the vine? What's your favourite dish made with tomatoes?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.