Is there anything better than a fresh, sweet, riper-than-ripe tomato?
I say this as somebody who thought I didn’t like tomatoes for the first 25 years of my life. I thought that because, up until then, I’d only ever had bland, mealy and out-of-season tomatoes.
The first time I had a fresh, ripe tomato on a BLT, it was a revelation. The first time I had a roasted tomato, I nearly cried with joy.
A few years back my friend Missy introduced me to a simple, and ridiculously easy, appetizer: sweet grape tomatoes, roasted with garlic, tossed with goat cheese and piled, bursting and juicy, on crusty bread. It’s been a go-to party dish for me ever since and never fails to please.
The other day, I picked up a bag of grape tomatoes at a farm stand, and was trying to think of a yummy way to make them for lunch. Missy’s party app popped into mind, but I didn’t have any goat cheese on hand – or crusty bread.
But then it occurred to me – why not sub in mozzarella and skip the bread? Kind of like a warm Caprese salad – perfect for a summer lunch, especially if you’re trying to eat low-carb or are simply fighting a bread addiction. (Guilty.)
So I did, and the tomatoes turned out delicious and totally satisfying.
It’s super simple, took about seven minutes to prepare, and you probably have the ingredients on-hand.
- Grape or cherry tomatoes. I used about a pint, make as many as you want to eat! You could probably substitute Roma or another sweet, smaller tomato variety in a pinch.
- Olive oil. I happened to have some basil-lemongrass infused oil I got at a local specialty shop - it was perfect because basil and tomatoes go together!
- A few cloves of garlic, to taste, peeled and cut in half or crushed.
- Mozzarella cheese, however much you want to use. I used about a third cup.
- A sprinkling of salt.
How to make it:
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place tomatoes and garlic on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and shake to coat. (For a pint of tomatoes, I used about two tablespoons of oil.)
- Sprinkle lightly with salt. You don’t need a lot, and if you want to skip this part it’ll still taste great.
- Put the cookie sheet in the oven and roast until the tomatoes start to split.
- Remove tomatoes from oven and turn off heat. With a spoon or spatula, scoop tomatoes into an oven-proof bowl or dish. Sprinkle mozzarella on top of tomatoes, then pop back into the oven for thirty seconds or so – just long enough to melt.
- Get a fork and eat!
This is a really basic dish, delicious on its own or the base for dozens of new ideas. I could see serving the roasted tomatoes over spinach (while still warm, so the spinach wilts), tossing with bacon, or scooping it up with baguettes…but truly, it made for a hearty lunch by itself and was a nice alternative to a cold salad.
Try it and let me know what you think!
Want more lunch ideas? See all “What’s for lunch?” posts here!