This is all about small tomatoes, slow-roasted on a low heat until they intensify. In the previous post, I got a little misty eyed about eating an excellent example of these in Italy, and when I got back, I just had to make some. They’re really extraordinarily simple – the ingredients are tomatoes, heat, and time. There’s an option on a dash of balsamic vinegar, of course.
You juggle these simple variables until the texture and piquancy comes right, then you throw them through pasta or whack them on bruschetta, or just eat them with your fingers as soon as they’re cool enough to handle. This is a recipe for the former, but I will not judge you for the latter even a little.
The tomatoes take a while, but they’ll keep, so you can prepare them in advance. That makes this a great weeknight, zero effort supper. Spend a lazy Sunday afternoon roasting tomatoes, and bung them in a jar. Then you can make dinner with them in about fifteen minutes.
Here I’ve used baby plum tomatoes. At Alla Stella they’d gone for cherry, which were deeper and sweeter. They’d also been fastidious about cutting them horizontally. Quite apart from the segmented rounds of the core making for excellent presentation, this helps them hold their structure and not collapse too much in the roasting. Too much – of course they’re going to shrivel down. That’s kind of the point.
- Tomatoes, cherry or baby plum, probably about 500g for two people
- Balsamic vinegar
- Pasta, in this case pappardelle
- Garlic, 1 clove
- Chilli, about half a red one
- Salami, in this case a coarse Italian one flavoured with Barolo
Heat the oven to 120c or so. Slice the tomatoes in half, and toss them with about a teaspoon of sugar, and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Oil an oven dish, and transfer the tomatoes into it, making sure they’re cut-side up.
Remove them and let them cool if you’re not going to use them right away. They’ll keep for a while.
If you’re using them now, then set some pasta cooking (try the off-the-boil shtick from Serious Eats) and prepare everything else. Fine slice the garlic and chilli, and warm it in some olive oil. Cube the salami, and add it, raising the temperature a little so it sort of cooks. When the pasta’s done, toss everything together with the tomatoes and serve.
Roasting the tomatoes may take a bit more or less time, and you might want to tinker with the temperature. I made two batches, and cooked the second for an hour at 150c. They were similar, but sharper and more blackened/caramelised, and I definitely prefered the first batch.
The salami was one I’d picked up in Verona last week. It’s nothing special, but a nice, coarse-grained, buttery affair, flavoured with Barolo. I figured this wine note would help it work together with the tomatoes, and although it did, it was also kind of superfluous. You don’t really need the meat here, and something like mackerel or tuna would work just as well if you want a little protein.
The final dish tastes of the things that are in it – it’s a delivery mechanism for slightly-sweet intensified tomatoes. Fruit amplification with a cursory noodle. It’s good, but you’d do just as well putting them into a salad, or serving a little timbale of the delicious little fuckers on the side of something.
I’ll probably make up an enormous jar of the tomatoes over the week, and try to find some more inspiring things to do with them.