Tomatoes are finally an abundance in the Bay Area.  Took a little longer than normal for them to make their market appearance but they are here, and we are happy.  We feel very lucky to live where we do as our option for tomatoes is beyond the traditional Roma;  there is a variety of heirlooms as well as pear, cherry, zebra, and the list goes on and on.

One of our favorite ways to eat tomatoes is to simply slice some multicolored heirlooms, lay them pretty on a plate, drizzle with good olive oil, a splash of thick, syrupy balsamic and a sprinkle of maldon salt;  they really don’t need anything else. Or a simple dinner idea is to slice a baguette in half, spread with a thick and creamy goat cheese, top with slices of dry-farmed tomatoes, a sprinkle of black sea salt and put it under for broiler until toasty;  serve with a green salad and you have a lovely dinner.  A childhood favorite is to slice open a crusty piece of bread, lightly spread some good mayo over the bread, top with slices of ripe, red tomatoes, a pinch of kosher salt and top with the other slice of bread;  easy lunch that takes me back to being seven years old, sitting on an outdoor step with skinned knees.

Lately, we have been enjoying pounds of these gorgeous vine-ripened tomatoes; they are plump, juicy and sexy being they are still attached to the vine.  I love twisting them off of the stems the scent that comes off of the slightly bruised stem is very intoxicating.  Try it.  Instant summer memory of picking tomatoes off the vines at our neighborhood garden when I was growing up.  Our favorite way of preparing them is to gently wipe them with a towel, lay them on a baking sheet, drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon salt.  Then they roast, long and slow, until they burst at the seams, making a caramelized, rich sauce.  To take the sauce to another level I had a head of garlic that has been roasted with olive oil.  The roasted garlic adds an earthy depth to the sauce.  During the last 20 minutes of roasting the tomatoes, I turn up the heat and had a little packet of garlic that has been drizzled with more olive oil and I let it carmelize.  Once everything is roasted, I crush the tomatoes in a saucepan and mix in the sweet roasted garlic, and let it simmer for a few minutes.  Tossed with hot pasta it makes a wonderfully light meal that is rich in flavors.

This tomato based sauce is very rich in flavor, you will want to make a few batches to freeze for the long winter.  Summer will be brought back instantly, when the dark days of winter are wrapping their arms around you.

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Recipe:  Roasted Tomato Sauce
  • 4 pounds tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • sprinkle of maldon salt

Heat the oven to 250.

Wipe the tomatoes with a towel, then lay them on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Slide into the oven and forget about for 4 hours.

Check on them every so often to make sure they do not over cook.  Depending on the size of your tomatoes they may take a little less or a little more time.

The last 20 minutes turn up the heat to 425.

Lay the head of garlic on some parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and twist to close tightly.  Put it into the oven until golden, about 15-20 minutes.  Do not let it burn.

Remove everything from the oven.

Put the tomatoes in a saucepan and gently crush with a wooden spoon.

Squeeze the soft garlic into the tomatoes and gently simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

While simmering the sauce, cook your favorite pasta according to package directions.

Drain the pasta.

Toss with the sauce.

Serve.

Eat.

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** Chez Us is participating in Food Network’s Summer Fest 2011 where we will be sharing great recipes using seasonal produce. You can find other delicious dishes using tomatoes over at the Food Network as well as at these sites:

 

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Seared Chicken with Cherry Tomato Pan Sauce
Haute Apple Pie: Heirloom Tomato & Three Cheese Tart
What’s Gaby Cooking: Zebra Tomato and Burrata Crostini
Zaika Zabardast: Balsamic Roasted Tomato-Basil Ice
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox – Garlic Tomato Basil Pesto Bruchetta
Daily*Dishin: Refreshing and Rustic – Tuscan Bread Salad
Glory Foods: Fresh Tomato Salsa
Dishin and Dishes: Tomato Tart Tatin
The Purple Cook: Eggplant Parmesan Caprese Salad
I Am Mommy: Cooking With My Kid: Gluten-Free White Bean Chive Cakes with Heirloom Tomatoes
FN Dish: Easy Tomato Appetizers
Add a Pinch: Simple Caprese Salad Skewers
Sweet Life Bake: Salsa Cruda
Virtually Homemade: Farfalle with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Bacon and Shaved Romano
Dixie Chik Cooks: Tomato, Basil and Olive Bruschetta
The Sensitive Epicure: Yemista – Greek Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers with Potatoes
Mooshu Jenne: Sun Burst Tomato Pasta
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Book Club, Tomatoes and a Recipe for Chicken Provençal?
Cooking With Elise: Tomato Parmesan Biscuits
From My Corner of Saratoga: Cooking from the Garden – Bruschetta Pizza
Fritos and Foie Gras: Tomato Terrine
Creative Culinary: Fresh and Savory Tomato Pie
Big Apple Nosh: Caprese Salad/Tomato Carnage
Zaika Zabardast: Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Breakfast Rolls

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