I absolutely love tomatoes! I try not to eat any all year until the season starts and I can really savour the Summer time's bounty. Today in Melbourne there is a public holiday for a horse race which to most would seem a little absurd. I like to replace 'Melbourne Cup day' with 'Melbourne tomato planting day'! The frost has almost completely left and continuous warm days are very much on the horizon drenching the garden with sun and proving to be the perfect time to pop in your tomato and basil plants and cross your fingers for a prosperous crop.
Already, there are beautiful heirloom varieties in the greengrocer's, weird and wonderful shapes, deep greens and murky reds! I especially love the contorted shapes of the Adelaide tomatoes – they always place them face down as if to think that if you saw their ugly face, you wouldn't dare take any home and cook with them. Give me these any day!
By roasting the tomatoes, slowly and patiently, they become so sweet and complex in flavour. It is also a great way to prepare tomatoes that are closer to the end than the beginning of their shelf life. Once the roasting is complete, you could use these tomatoes in a myriad of ways – blitzed up and made into a pasta sauce or soup, served with roasted meats on soft polenta or even roughly crushed and stirred through pasta! The recipe is more a collection of ingredients, so use your taste and your eye, add a bit more oil or a bit more time in the oven, depending on your needs and your preference.
Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side salad
700g heirloom varieties of tomatoes (small-medium sizes work the best)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
2 large balls of buffalo mozzarella or Fior di Latte
Good quality balsamic vinegar
Plenty of crusty bread
Preheat oven to 180C. In a large baking dish, place the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Bake until tomatoes have blistered and almost collapsed (depending on size and ripeness, the time will vary but approximately an hour). Cool slightly.
Arrange tomatoes in a serving dish. Tear over mozzarella and add basil leaves. Drizzle over extra oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Add extra salt if needed.
Serve warm with plenty of crusty bread to mop up all the juices.