It was many years ago that I used to entertain regularly (and I mean almost every weekend), so no matter how big or how small the occasion was, whether it was breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner – I found myself making a few standard things in preperation. Roasting tomatoes was one of those items and aside from the wonderful flavour they have, they are also very adaptable, from a side through to an ingredient in a salad, pizza topping or a pasta – they have multiple uses and are consequently great to have on hand.
Of course when I encountered a variation on my standard roast tomatoes I was intrigued and quite happily so – for these burstingly ripe tomatoes, lying blistered and bleeding in their reduced juices are truely sensational. The addition of some herbs and spices, not to mention the marinated feta and raisins only serve to enhance their bold tomato flavour.
You may think the combination of tomatoes and raisins an odd one (like I did) but it works. Somehow the saltiness of the feta brings these two ingredients together whilst the syrupy sweetness from the raisins compliments the tomato perfectly.
You may be expecting guests – or you may not, either way if you pop these in the oven for your weekend dining, you (and your guests) will have something wonderful to nibble on – at whatever time you choose.
80 grams, 2.8 ounces(¼ cup) natural almonds
12 perfectly ripe, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
105 grams/3.7 ounces (¾ cup) large golden raisins
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled, bruised
6 pieces lemon peel, removed with a peeler, pith removed
2 long red chillies, seeds removed, thinly sliced
8 marjoram sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
150 grams/5.3 ounces Persian feta, coarsely broken
Preheat oven to 220C. Spread almonds on an oven tray and roast until golden (4-5 minutes). Set aside to cool, then coarsely chop or coarsely crush in a mortar and pestle.
Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a roasting pan in a snug single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter with raisins, garlic, lemon peel, chilli, marjoram, bay and fennel seeds, season to taste and roast until tomatoes blister and bleed their juices (15-20 minutes).
Remove from oven, pour pan juices into a small saucepan, reduce over high heat until thick and syrupy (3-5 minutes), then pour over tomatoes to glaze.
Scatter tomatoes with feta and almonds, drizzle with extra olive oil, then season with freshly ground black pepper and serve hot.
Notes: Persian Feta is a marinated feta made by Yarra Valley Dairy in Australia. Any marinated feta will work as a good substitute.
Source: Jordan Theodoros, Aquacaf
© 2011, Michelle. All rights reserved.