Roasted tomatoes seem to always be lurking in my kitchen. I use them in soups, tuck them into panini and top them on bruschetta. They are both sweet and savory and can be used in a myriad of dishes. The beauty of this recipe is your tomatoes don’t have to be ripe to end up with gorgeous roasted ‘maters. My experience with grocery store tomatoes, and sometimes even the ones purchased at farmer’s markets, is a usually a huge disappointment. No flavor and a dry, mealy texture is the norm today. This recipe forgives the gassed tomato and the farmer that dared tout his product as “vine ripe from the farm”. Let me make clear though, nothing, but nothing, will save the rock hard, pale pink fruit if it is carted to market before it’s time.
But your average grocery store tomato will sing when prepared this way. I serve it as a side along side other vegetable dishes and my family is happy, happy. Any leftovers are roughly chopped and made into soup or bruschetta. The flavors ripen with a bit of time so the following day these roasted tomatoes are sublime…warm, hot or cold. They’re great on homemade pizza, in omelets and salads. Juicy and full of flavor, they pair well with grilled beef and fish, as well as grilled zucchini and stuffed into grilled portobello mushrooms. Over pasta? You’ll think you died and went to heaven. I hope you try these. So good and so easy!
Herb Roasted Tomatoes
- 12 plum tomatoes
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme or herbes of provence
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 5 or 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- Pre-heat oven to 400°.
- Slice tomatoes lengthwise in half, slice out the core if you wish. I leave it as it softens and sweetens as it roasts.
- Hold one half over the sink, cut side up and run your index finger through the tomato sections, scooping out and discarding the seeds and finish by placing in a large bowl. Continue until all the tomato halves have been seeded. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and olive oil and mix well.
- Pour the garlic mixture over the seeded tomatoes and, using your hands, toss well making certain the garlic and herbs cover all surfaces of the seeded tomatoes.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and cover with non-stick spray.
- Place the tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet. Pour any garlic-olive oil mixture over the tomato halves and scatter the fresh thyme sprigs randomly over the tomatoes.
- Bake 45-55 minutes.
- Serve immediately or cool completely, store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Y’all ever been in the South on a Sunday? Anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line? Because Sunday in the South means church, church clothes, (NO tank tops, flip-flops or shorts!), and relaxing with family over dish after well prepared dish of southern classics. When I was in school in Macon I was stunned by the array of vegetable dishes offered in friends homes not to mention the platters of fried chicken, smothered chicken, baked ham, roasted turkey or tenderloin of beef. Remember, Mama couldn’t and didn’t cook so in our house, growing up, Sundays meant a gorgeous table laid with glistening silver and china, beautifully arranged flowers and burnt food. Yep. Mama would serve food that was completely black and burned on one side. She’d just plate that zucchini, chicken, dolphin, anything charcoal side down and keep on keepin’ on. As a result, my time spent in girlfriends houses was filled with awe and wonder. Not because they had beautifully appointed homes. Heck, no. I had that! It was that I was continually astonished at the culinary epiphanies that hit me round every corner. Strawberry jam, BUTTER, fried chicken, iced tea…grilled cheese sandwiches. And Sundays in a Southern home meant side boards groaning under the weight of every vegetable imaginable, at least six or seven, and that didn’t include the biscuits and desserts. Most Sunday dinners included squash casserole and I soon learned there are good ones and there are bad ones, however, that is completely subjective. Some featured thick rounds of squash glistening with butter, the seeds leering back at me as if to remind me of Mama’s blackened attempts of zucchini and summer squash. Ugh. Her squash was the definition of gross. I must tell you, though, there is another method of preparing squash casserole which requires you to process the cooked squash mixture and the outcome is pure magic. Smooth but still with texture this summer squash casserole doesn’t even taste like a vegetable. Yes, the squash is sweet but the addition of onions and pepper-jack cheese gives it a savory, piquant twist you will positively love. It’s the only way I’ll eat summer squash. My hope is the next time you put out a big, Southern-style spread replete with English peas, black-eyed peas with snaps, collard greens with pot likker, candied sweet potatoes, tomato aspic, stewed okra and tomatoes, sweet and sour red cabbage and fresh shelled lady peas you’ll consider serving this glorious summer squash casserole.
Summer Squash Casserole
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 4 1/2 pounds yellow squash, roughly chopped
- 1 cup plain Greek yoghurt, or any plain, thick yoghurt
- 8 ounces pepper-jack cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 350°.
- In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped onion. Cook until clear but not browned.
- Add the chopped squash and gently stir to coat with the oil and onions. Adjust the heat if needed so as to cook the squash but not to brown. Stir occasionally for the squash to cook evenly and for the juices to evaporate or cook off. You don’t want any liquid as that will cause the casserole to be watery. Cooking the squash may take as long as 15 minutes. That’s fine. Get rid of the water.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes.
- While the squash is cooling mix the Panko with the teaspoon of olive oil and toss well that all the crumbs are covered. Set aside.
- Transfer the squash to a food processor or blender and pulse until there are no lumps or large pieces of squash. Return squash to pan.
- To the squash add the yoghurt and cheese and mix thoroughly by hand. Taste for salt and pepper.
- Add the eggs and wine and stir well.
- Pour the mixture into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Scatter Panko crumbs evenly over top.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top.