Chef's Hat: It's the year of the cherry tomato
For some reason, the cherry tomato plants in my yard have run amok this summer. These delightful little fruits are sweet and succulent and are a great pleasure even when eaten straight off the vine.
They not only taste good, but cherry tomatoes are also rich in potassium and magnesium and they are chock-full of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, E and K.
It is easy to gobble up a dozen or so right off the vine and then throw a few more into a salad or on top of a pizza. But what do you do when there are close to 200 cherry tomatoes on your ever ambitious plants?
Large tomatoes are fairly easy to can, but it would take an incredible amount of time to prepare these small fruits for canning. There is an alternative.
These tiny tomatoes can be seasoned with olive oil and herbs, roasted and then readily available for use in pastas, salads, pizza, soups or stew, and they make a great topping that will enhance the flavor of grilled chicken. Roasting caramelizes and intensifies the flavor. Once prepared, the roasted tomatoes can be eaten immediately, refrigerated or frozen for later use.
These tasty delights make an excellent pasta dish. Simply cook your pasta of choice, throw on a handful of roasted tomatoes and top off with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
Roasted tomatoes combine with most vegetables and go especially well with green beans. The crisp crunch of freshly harvested beans mingles with the sweet, caramelized tomatoes, which results in a pleasing taste that will appeal to even the pickiest eaters.
Do you have too many cherry tomatoes? Don’t give them away to friends and neighbors. Invest just a few ingredients and a bit of time and you will have a supply of scrumptious roasted tomatoes that will enhance those boring weeknight dinners. Happy Eating!
- 16 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs - parsley, basil or thyme, optional
- Nonstick cooking spray
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the olive oil and spices (exclude the fresh herbs) in a medium size bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss until well coated.
Spray a baking pan or cooking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the tomatoes evenly on the pan. Bake until the tomatoes start to shrivel and blister, 12 to 18 minutes. If tomatoes aren’t quite dry, cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, but watch closely as they will cook quickly. Remove from oven. Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top of the roasted tomatoes.
Transfer the tomatoes, their juices, and any bits that are stuck to the pan to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Tomatoes can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If desired, the tomatoes can be frozen. Place into quart-size freezer bags. Place tomatoes into the bag and squeeze out the air. They will keep frozen for 3 to 4 months.
Grilled Chicken & Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad
- 2 cups assorted salad greens
- ½ cup roasted cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 grilled chicken breasts (grill ahead of time; if desired, marinate in your choice of marinade)
- 1/4 cup Swiss cheese, cut into small chunks
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- Raspberry vinaigrette
Place the salad greens onto four serving plates. Top with tomatoes, cucumbers, cranberries, chicken, Swiss cheese and onion.
Pour over a small amount of vinaigrette and serve immediately.
Green Beans & Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad
- 1 pound green beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups roasted cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup Swiss or mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint (or parsley)
Place the beans in a medium size pot. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook covered for 8 to 10 minutes, just until beans are slightly tender. Beans should still be crisp. Drain and place in cold water or ice water. Drain and dry with paper towels. Place in a medium sized bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, salt, garlic powder, mustard and pepper. Taste. If desired, add additional salt and pepper. If it is too bitter for your taste, add additional honey.
Drizzle over beans. Add the onion and toss gently to toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour. Just before serving, stir in the tomatoes and cheese and then top with mint (or parsley).