These Roma tomatoes, also known as Plum tomatoes or, here in Spain, tomates Pera (pear tomatoes) are all beginning to ripen here now.
When I am out with Rufus in the morning I see the farmers and their wives with their straw hats and gloves on, picking them from row upon row of tomato plants and storing them in crates.
They are really cheap at the moment so you can buy a lot for very little money. One of my favourite things to do with these tomatoes is to slow-roast them. It intensifies the flavour, you can make a load and keep them covered in oil in the fridge.
All you have to do is cut them in half, put them on a lined baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt & pepper and put them in a low oven for 2 hours, or more if you like them more dried.
You can use them in salads, pasta dishes, serve them on burgers, in sandwiches, tortillas, quiches, pizzas or a quick bruschetta. They transform anything ordinary into something a bit special. And it’s so easy.
If you try making these once you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. They’re such a handy thing to have around. And so cheap at the moment, it would be rude not to really.
They’re great for picnics too.
Tomatoes and basil were made for each other. They are what summer is all about. The Caprese salad is one of my “go to” summer dishes because all the ingredients are at their best and it is really quick and easy to make.
Now feel free to just use these tomatoes in a “normal” Caprese with some soft, milky buffalo mozzarella and lots of torn basil leaves if that is all you can manage in this heat. I wouldn’t blame you at all.
But I couldn’t really call that a recipe could I? I’d feel like I was cheating you somehow.
I used quinoa in this recipe but you could just as easily use cooked rice, couscous, orzo or even pasta as the base.
Quinoa is so good for you, an amazing source of protein if you are vegetarian or vegan and it’s gluten-free. If you’ve never tried cooking with it before you should give it a go. Don’t be scared, it’s easy to work with, really versatile and is nice to eat. It absorbs flavours really well too. I cook mine in veg stock rather than water which makes it even tastier.
Slow Roast Tomato & Quinoa Caprese Recipe
serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free
For the tomatoes:
- 8 large , ripe plum tomatoes
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt & black pepper
Preheat the oven to 150C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthways and place them, cut side up on the tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt & pepper. Put in the oven for 2 hours, or longer until they have started to dry out.
Leave to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge with any juices until half an hour before you need them. Bring them back to room temperature before serving to get the most out of the flavour. If you want to store them for longer than a few days, cover them with some olive oil. But I doubt they’ll last that long.
For the Quinoa Caprese:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 400 gr quinoa
- about 1 litre veg stock
- 40gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
- a big handful of basil leaves
- 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 or 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 200 gr mozzarella
- 6-8 slow-roast tomato halves (see above)
- salt & black pepper
- chilli oil (optional)
Cook the quinoa by putting it into boiling veg stock, lower the heat slightly and simmer for 12 -14 minutes until you can see the curlicues in every grain and it has absorbed all, or most, of the stock. Add some boiling water if dries out. Drain, if necessary, and leave to cool.
Meanwhile fry the onions in the olive oil over a medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes until softened and caramelised.
Fluff up the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains and stir through the onions and any oil from the pan. Tip in any tomato juices, the sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tear or finely julienne the basil and add half to the quinoa and season with salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can refrigerate it at this point, just bring it back to room temperature before serving.
To serve, pile the quinoa onto a large serving dish or into individual bowls and arrange the slow-roast tomatoes on top. Tear off bite size pieces of mozzarella, scatter it around the tomatoes and top it off with the rest of the basil. Drizzle over some chilli oil or olive oil at the table.
Enjoy the taste of summer in a bowl!
Things That made Me Smile Today…..
Rufus cooling off in the spring…
Giving our plants on the terrace a quick shower…