A Simple Garnish: Roasted Tomatoes

June 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

During the last two weeks of Operation Tomato Eat-Down, I’ve had my better moments.  After overdosing on raw tomatoes, I nearly hit a dead end.  Time to pull out the canning manual, I groaned.  It’s only June and I’m already sick of them! But, a thought occurred to me: I love roasted vegetables (and roasted fruits, too – especially stone fruits).  There’s something about that long, steamy rest in the oven that seems to extract the intrinsic flavor of whatever went in, and makes the taste and texture more complex.   Beets, broccoli leaves, potatoes, parsnips – roasting, in my book, makes them all the more savory.  Why I waited so long shows a supreme lapse in judgment.  After glancing at a tomato bowl overflowing with over a dozen tomatoes on the verge of over-ripeness, I gave it a shot.

The verdict?  Guys, we’re talking Tomato Revelation.  Roasted tomatoes, I’m delighted to say, are so good that I not only polished off all of those tomatoes solo, on top of my lunch (and for a second course), but I made them again the next day, and the day after that, and I’ll be making them tomorrow, with an eye toward the next day.

The following “recipe” really isn’t much of a recipe: it combines a few essential flavors – good balsamic vinegar and garlic, primarily – and then lets the oven do the work.  I chose to do a “fast roast.”  From start to finish, my tomatoes were ready to eat in just shy of a half hour.  Slow-roasted tomatoes are another deal (and a dream).  They bake for a long time (we’re talkin’ 8 hours or so) at a low oven heat, hovering around 200 degrees.  Slow-roasted tomatoes have incredible flavor and texture and are all-around exceptional.  But here’s a recipe for a short-bake that yields excellent results and a lower electricity bill.

fresh tomatoes of any size
balsamic vinegar*
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
sea salt
basil, for garnish

*If following the SCD-diet, be sure to use balsamic vinegar with no added sugar that has aged 18 years.


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Meanwhile, chop tomatoes (large cherry or bigger) in half and scoop out the seeds.  You can leave small cherries whole and place them all in a pan, cut-side up.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Chop several cloves of garlic in a fine dice and sprinkle over the tomatoes.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Cooking time is 20-35 minutes, depending on the size of the tomatoes.  The small tomatoes will look shriveled and blackened around the edges.  Don’t be alarmed if the oven gets steamy; just tip your hat to the balsamic vinegar and let it keep baking.  Serve warm or at room temperature on top of salads, incorporated into pastas, as a killer pizza topping or plain, garnished with thin slices of fresh basil.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, SCD-safe


A Simple Garnish: Fried Lemon

April 11, 2010 § 1 Comment

Last Saturday I sprawled out on the cement patio with my sunglasses, a glass of iced lemonade and my favorite Mollie Katzen cookbook: Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without. I was moments away from chugging the rest of my lemonade and whipping up Mollie’s broccoli with peanut dressing recipe.  But then I flipped a page and landed on “Fried Lemon Slices.”  Fried lemon slices!?  Sure enough, Mollie sliced a couple of lemons into paper-thin slices, lightly coated them in flour and fried them in a glug of oil.  I’m never one to doubt Mollie, but I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical, plus – who am I kidding – peanut dressing sounded delectable.  But after I read her recipe intro about the lip-smacking, addictive nature of fried lemons slices, I sat up, yanked a lemon off of our tree and scampered up the steps into our house.  I roasted a couple of small fennel heads from the farmers’ market and fried a lemon’s worth of slices to stick on top.  Guys, this garnish isn’t just additive – it’s fantastic!  Each bite is tart, savory, crispy and a little salty.

I purposely set a couple of slices aside to see how well they’d keep in the fridge overnight, and while they certainly weren’t bad (I ate the leftovers in about 45 seconds), they lost some of their crispy texture. Two final notes about the cooking process: keep a close eye on the slices because they burn quickly.  Second, when you first remove the slices from the pan, they might look a little soggy, but they’ll crisp up after a couple of minutes as they cool.

P.S.  If you’d like to see an alternative way to fry lemon slices, here’s a smile-inducing video with Adam from The Amateur Gourmet and Amanda Hesser from the Times!

1+ lemon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
several cracks pepper
olive oil (at least 2 tablespoons)


Mix flour, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.  Slice lemon into paper-thin slices.  Heat olive oil in a brimmed skillet on the stove on medium-high until hot – test with a drop of water; if the oil splatters slightly, the oil is hot.  Dust each lemon slice in the flour mixture, shake off any excess and place in the oil.  Cook for approximately 1 minute on each side until nicely browned.  Remove from heat and let cool on a paper towel.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Nut-free, vegan

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