Friday, January 20, 2012

MiddleBar Roasted Tomatoes

Ina's Tomatoes at MiddleBar
MiddleBar is known for anything that has a tomato in it. But unfortunately, tomatoes are a summer fruit and I'm a strong believer that tomatoes can't be eaten out of season. But roasting those crappy winter tomatoes turns an almost inedible December tomato into a fantastic appetizer dish year round. These tomatoes are also a great base for an unbelievable pasta sauce or tomato basil soup and don't worry you will see those recipes in future posts.

This dish is elevated in both taste AND beauty by pairing it with Burrata cheese, an artesianal soft mozzarella cheese. Burrata comes in a little cheese "pouch" and when sliced open the creamy and stringy interior cheese is exposed. Burrata is traditionally served at room temp so don't worry about putting a milky cheese out on an appetizer tray. There are several brands of Burrata available at Whole Foods, TJs and your run of the mill grocery store but I find that the best Burratas come from speciality cheese stores. I encourage you to find one in your neighborhood and spring for the more expensive cheese for this dish because you know that's the way Ina would do it.

MiddleBar Roasted Tomatoes
12-15 roma tomatoes cut in 1/2 cores and seeds removed
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
White granulated sugar
Salt and Pepper
Crushed garlic (I use the jar version but don't tell Ina)

Preheat the oven to 450.
Oil a half sheet pan and place the tomato halves face up on the baking sheet. Brush each tomato with crushed garlic and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper and sugar. (I find that the more sugar the better, my grandfather was from Palermo, Italy and had a heavy hand with sugar in all of his red sauces.) Roast until the tomatoes are caramelized, about 30-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp with Burrata cheese (drizzled with olive oil, s&p) and crostini.

The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, is my favorite chef hands down. I have a special love for Ina and she inspires many recipes that you read here on MiddleBar including these roasted tomatoes. I often take the liberty of altering Ina's recipes usually adding some New Orleans flair and even occasionally omitting some butter, gasp. All that butter is just cheating anyway.
How easy is that Ina!

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