Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tomatoes Roasted with Herbs

If I had to name one thing that Polish and Italian cuisines have in common it would be our shared love for tomatoes. I have just come back from Poland where for a month I lived mostly on a raw tomato diet, thanks to which I probably got my yearly supply of lycopene. Polish tomatoes are amazing. They come in an endless variety of texture and taste. They are available everywhere in great abundance and at a very low price. On the local farmers' market, which I visited twice a week, I was buying many kilograms of tomatoes, which turned out to be barely enough to last until my next trip to the market. You could see mountains of them at dozens of stands in all shapes and colors. And each time I was dreaming to bring them here and introduce my American friends to the real tomatoes they have never tasted.

But these are just memories.

In America, I enjoy the sweet yellow or red cherry tomatoes and those medium dark brown, which are hard but very sweet. My recent addiction is a dish of roasted tomatoes with herbs that can accompany any meat, fish or goes well alone with freshly baked white bread. For this recipe, I use Roma tomatoes, but any other kind, which has a lot of flesh but not much juice, will work as well. On top of cut tomatoes I sprinkle Zatar--a mix of spices available in Middle Eastern groceries--a combination of thyme, sesame seeds, coriander, and sumac. I drizzle everything with olive oil and bake. This dish works well also with Herbes de Provance or any other herb mix you may like.

Tomatoes Roasted with Herbs

1 lb ripe tomatoes,
1 tbsp Zatar (dried thyme, sesame seeds, coriander, and sumac) or any dried herbs you like, plus one tbsp of sesame seeds,
2 garlic cloves cut in half,
2 tbsp olive oil,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
1. Cut tomatoes in quarters and arrange on a 9-inch oven-proof dish.
2. Sprinkle with herbs, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper.

3. Drizzle with oil on top and bake for about 30 minutes until tomatoes become dark red and spices slightly brown.

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