For many of you, tomato season has come to a close. The late-summer harvest has ended and you have enjoyed big, juicy, sweet tomatoes in every way possible. In Japan, tomato season is always over. I have the most difficult time finding tomatoes that even come close to the ones I’ve eating in Minnesota. Here, the tomatoes are small, pink, and have a grainy flesh. They are very similar to the tomatoes that can be found in the mega supermarkets when tomatoes are out of season. Fortunately, cherry tomatoes are available and are quite good.
For the times when I am really craving that rich tomato flavor, I turn to this recipe. Slow roasting tomatoes, no matter what their quality, seems to bring out all the great things that tomatoes lovers treasure. And somehow, even the pinkest of tomatoes come out looking a deeper red.
You may remember the post I wrote over the summer about Ursula’s Wine Bar and Cafe in White Bear Lake, MN. This is a variation of a starter that has been on their menu for years. It is a favorite of many patrons, including myself. There is nothing like sitting at the bar with a big glass of red wine, warm crusty bread topped with the sweet, juicy, herby tomatoes and creamy, tangy goat cheese. I miss that…
For my version of Ursula’s starter, I toss the tomatoes in olive oil and honey before placing them in a pan. A light sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper before they go into the oven and 45 minutes later a transformation occurs. The tomatoes are perfectly roasted with an intensely sweet flavor. The goat cheese is the perfect way to balance the tomatoes’ strong flavor.
This dish is great to make in large quantities and, if goat cheese is a little too rough on the wallet, you can use part goat cheese and part cream cheese. Just combine the two in a bowl and blend with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Perfect for the upcoming holidays! Thanks to Ursula’s for keeping this one on the menu. It’s nice to be able to recreate a delicious part of home such as this.
Oven Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Spread
Makes 4-6 appetizer servings
2 pints cherry tomatos (or 6 roma tomatoes) halved
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
12 oz. goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (or 160 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, honey and olive oil. Toss to coat. Transfer the tomatoes into a 9 inch pan with sides at least 1 inch high. Spread the tomatoes in an even layer and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Put the tomatoes in the oven and roast for 45 to 1 hour. If you notice the skin of the tomato starting to burn at all, give them a quick stir during the cooking process.
Meanwhile, in the bottom of a small oven-safe serving dish, spread the goat cheese in an even layer. When the tomatoes are done, carefully add the time leaves. Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees F (175 C). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes on top of the goat cheese and place the dish in the oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese is heated through. Again, keep an eye on the tomatoes to ensure they do not burn.
Serve with warmed crusty bread or crackers.