We have just wrapped a few weeks of family visits, and it was, as always, a blast!
My Mom was here for a couple weeks, and though we were sorry that my Dad didn’t feel up to it, we were glad that she was able to come. It was her first time seeing her latest great grandchild, Evelyn, and it has been a few years since she was able to see Mark & Anna, so they are like whole new people almost. And in addition to Mom, both the girls and their families, my sister and brother in law were also able to get away for a long weekend.
Our house is beginning to feel the strain when we have a lot of company these days – we have to expand the sleeping arrangements to include a tent, and fortunately, my sister and her husband have a camper. It is a little snug just the same – good thing we all like each other! It was a lot of fun.
Anyway – I mention all that, because one evening my sister made one of her favorite appetizers for us – a goat cheese spread with sun dried tomatoes. It is so tasty, and we always enjoy it.
It got me thinking though. Here I am with a gallon pail filled to the brim with huge beautiful grape tomatoes – I don’t really need to go and buy sun dried tomatoes. And I have a bunch of fresh garlic and rosemary. I knew I could recreate this tasty treat with what I had on hand.
I had some nice creamy goat cheese already, so a week or so later, I got to work. It is an incredibly simple combination of ingredients, and once the tomatoes and garlic are roasted and cooled, it takes just a few minutes to get ready. You are even going to end up with a nice supply of really tasty roasted tomatoes that will be great on pasta, on a grilled cheese sandwich or a salad. You can roast just a enough for the spread, but if I am going to fire up my oven for an hour, I want to make full use of it – I made a whole sheet pan of tomatoes and garlic!
- about 25 large grape or small plum tomatoes
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves - do not peel
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- a few springs of fresh rosemary [these will be discarded after roasting the tomatoes, and they are optional]
- 8 ounces of goat cheese, at room temperature
- about 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
- Set the oven to 400º.
- Line a large, heavy baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the tomatoes in half the long way, and place cut side up on the sheet pan.
- Scatter the garlic cloves around the pan, along with the first amount of rosemary.
- Drizzle the vegetable with the olive oil, and season with the salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, turn the tomatoes over and roast another 20 minutes.
- Allow the tomatoes to cool on the pan, until they are cool enough to handle.
- Remove the skins from the tomatoes and discard - this is a little fiddly to do, but mostly they should slip right off, once you get an edge started. This is also optional - you can leave the skins on if you like the texture.
- Cut once end from the garlic cloves, and squeeze out the roasted clove inside, keeping it as intact as possible. Discard the rosemary.
- At this point, you can place the peeled tomatoes and the garlic cloves, along with the oil on the sheet pan in a glass dish, and store in the fridge for up to a week.
- When you are ready to make the spread, have all the ingredients at room temperature,
- Use a fork to mash up the cheese, in a shallow dish, then mash the roasted garlic into the cheese. Use a couple cloves at first and taste to see if that is enough - you can always add more later, but you can't take it out if you get too much in there.
- Mince up about 10 of the tomato halves, and blend into the cheese and garlic,
- Mix in the rosemary.
- Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Pack into a ramekin or other serving dish. You can sprinkle the top with a bit more minced rosemary if you like, and an additional drizzle of olive oil is nice as well.
- Serve at room temperature, with crostini, crackers, toasted pitas or fresh veggies.
- Refrigerate leftovers, but bring back to room temperature to serve.
Pretty darned amazing stuff.Simple, fresh and so good!