Wednesday, February 12, 2014

pomodori al forno (baked tomatoes).

The North-East is on the verge of being hit with another avalance of snow.  I'm not one to really complain about the weather, I don't mind the cold.  I like being snuggled under layers of blankets living the life of a hibernating grizzly bear (I also look like one when wrapped up in my awesome fake fur blanket). It's a good time to catch up on all the shows (House of Cards), magazines (I have an overflowing stack of spring fashion issues next to my bed), and cookbooks (Vegetable Literacy and Four and Twenty Blackbirds) that I never seem to get to when the weather is warm and the sun is shinning.  

But I will admit that I miss the foods and flavors of warmer weather.  There are only so many baked sweet potatoes and kale salads that one can eat before you begin to crave brightness and acidity.  When that happens, I turn to pomodori al forno also known as baked tomatoes.  During the depths of winter, these baked tomatoes emerge from the oven like ruby red jewels, glossy and slick from their coat of olive oil and they serve as a reminder that summer will come again.  I have been known to eat them plain by the forkful but on some well toasted garlic-rubbed baguette with a slice of aged goat cheese these tomatoes turn ethereal.  

Pomodori al Forno (Oven Baked Tomatoes)
Recipe from Bon Appetit

The only advice I have is to make sure you purchase the best quality canned tomatoes you can.  You want to purchase whole peeled tomatoes in juice.  There are a lot of articles done about the best canned tomatoes, I found this one helpful.  But let's be honest when you are baking tomatoes in olive oil for almost 3 hours, pretty much any tomatoes will taste good.  

1 cups (or more) olive oil, divided
2 pounds canned plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded  
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh Italian parsley
Aged goat cheese (such as Bûcheron)
1 baguette, thinly sliced crosswise, toasted

Preheat oven to 250°F. Pour 1/2 cup oil into 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes in dish, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar, and salt. Bake 1 hour. 
Using tongs, turn tomatoes over. Bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over again. Bake until deep red and very tender, transferring tomatoes to plate when soft (time will vary, depending on ripeness of tomatoes), about 15 to 45 minutes longer.
Layer tomatoes in medium bowl, sprinkling garlic and parsley over each layer; reserve oil in baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with reserved oil, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
Cover; chill up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.  Serve with aged goat cheese and toasted baguette slices. 

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