roasted roma tomatoes


i had friends over this past weekend for a quiet little cocktail party. some brought fresh mint to muddle into mojitos and whole peaches to slice and plunk into the blender, i made lots of little appetizers and miniature desserts, and it was a grand time. i don’t live in the best neighborhood – think bars on windows and sirens at night – but i tell you, twilight and christmas lights can make just about any venue charming.


i brought out one of my favorite recipes to headline the menu: roasted roma tomatoes on toast. it is a recipe that i’ve got bookmarked in an old issue of sunset, glossy pages wrinkly from spills, i’m sure, and probably still wedged into the bookshelf at home between some jane austen books and even older issues of national geographic. but since i don’t live at home anymore, i did some figurative bookshelf browsing and found the recipe online. it is here.


i first came across it during my balsamic vinegar kick. i used to go through these phases when i’d browse through recipes or restaurant menus with certain choice ingredients on my radar. i had a period when i loved roasted red bell peppers in just about everything, another when i had my eyes bright and open for anything with goat cheese, other times for caramelized onions, grilled sourdough bread, roasted garlic… come to think of it, all those things would make a really good panini right now.

anyway. roasted roma tomatoes.

in the recipe, the tomatoes get halved and roasted for a little over an hour in the oven, basted all the while in a sauce made of balsamic vinegar, finely chopped onion, brown sugar, and just a bit of olive oil.


at the end, the tomatoes get kind of melty – soft and rich with the caramelized flavor. it’s the perfect topping to go with a smear of creamy goat cheese on some crispy toasted baguette.

we moved the party in by the end of the night, and as we were sitting in the living room, i heard a crunch and an “mmmm” behind me. one of my friends had gone into the kitchen for a second round, it turns out. that noise is just about the best sign of gastronomic approval, i think.


Roasted Roma Tomatoes on Toast
Adapted from this recipe {Sunset, June 2003}
Makes 8 appetizer, 4 main-dish servings

8 Roma tomatoes (equal size, 1 ½ lb. total), rinsed and cored
½ onion (about 4 oz.), peeled and finely chopped
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Goat cheese (about 5 oz.)
Baguette, sliced crosswise, brushed with olive oil, and toasted

1. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Lay halves cut side up in a single layer in an 8- by 12-inch oval or rectangular casserole (rim should be at least ½ in. higher than tomatoes).
2. In a 1 ½- to 2-quart pan, combine onion, vinegar, sugar, and
olive oil. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Pour over tomatoes.
3. Roast in a 400° oven (convection not recommended) until tomatoes are dark brown and sauce is browned and thickened (bubbles will be large and shiny), about 1 ¼ hours; baste tomatoes with sauce and onions about every 15 minutes at first, then more frequently as mixture begins to thicken, to avoid scorching. Use hot, warm, or at room temperature.
4. Spread goat cheese equally on oiled sides of the olive-oil toast slices. Spoon tomatoes and juices equally onto toast slices. Add salt to taste.


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