I haven’t been feeling a lot of inspiration this week, so I’ve been depending on stopping by the co-op after work each day and seeing what catches my eye first. One night it resulted in a very nice pork tenderloin , with a pilaf of wild rice, mushrooms, shallot, spinach and roasted sweet potatoes, so that worked out all right.
For the next night I had an idea that I would get some fish, probably salmon. No idea what I wanted for a side dish, so I grabbed a cookbook that I hadn’t yet done a thing with, Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver. After a quick flip through I was struck by a lovely photo of a panful of roasted tomatoes stuffed with bay leaves (I guess I am all about the pretty pictures), and decided that if I could find the ingredients I would do it. Of course tomatoes are SO not in season right now, but the co-op had some decent hothouse romas, and I had basil in the fridge and my own garlic and bay leaves from the garden. Jamie calls for baby leeks, but that just wasn’t going to happen.
I cut a cross in the top of each tomato and stuffed a fresh bay leaf inside. The tomatoes fit neatly into one of my smaller Le Creuset pots, sitting on a layer of torn basil leaves and slivered garlic. I sprinkled kosher salt and pepper over them, gave them a big glug of balsamic vinegar and a smaller glug of olive oil, and popped them in the oven at 330°.
After about an hour I took them out – they were still mostly intact, just a little shriveled, and they gave off a fierce steam of vinegar and tomato fumes. I sauteed a really beautiful salmon fillet and made a green salad, and served it all up with a Willow Crest viognier. It was really good, especially swiping pieces of salmon through the tomatoey juices on the plate.
I thought this was a worthwhile recipe, but in some ways I think the tomatoes’ greatest appeal will be as a leftover. I can see eating them cold, chopping them into soup, or pureeing them and using them as a pizza sauce – they just have a great complex flavor to them, like a really good pasta sauce. I’ll have to revisit this one when the tomatoes are a better quality.