It's summer and it's hot and I feel like all I'm ever eating is cold pasta, tomatoes and goat cheese. I'm not necessarily saying there is anything wrong with this, but a girl has to crave variety at some point. Of course, being faced with a meager pantry makes variety a smidge harder to come by these days. When I'm on a work day, I tend to steer more towards something I can whip up easily and throw in Tupperware to take to work. I also try and bear in mind that I heat up my dinner in a small office with five other people so smelly food isn't terribly fair of me. And, I'm really finding cold foods refreshing in this heat. I think soon will come the time when I'm craving sandwiches. Then it'll be all dense bread and cheddar cheese as far as the eye can see. Maybe some soup.
But for now, with the temperature outside over 100 degrees and with high (for Vegas) humidity, I still can't shake the desire for cold tomatoes. I want creamy, salty goat cheese, and a hint of lemon juice. Same Sh*t Different Day. But just for kicks and giggles, lets jazz it up a bit shall we?
I discovered slow roasted tomatoes thanks to the brilliant and dazzling Molly Wizenberg, she of Orangette and the book A Homemade Life.Slow roasted tomatoes are extremely simple and there are several ways you can season them. Molly (as she is referred to in my house, my guy always knows who I mean) makes hers with ground coriander, a great spice that brings out a lemony quality. For me, I like to go a little rustic and use herbes de provence. This is a great way to improve on the flavor of lame inexpensive store tomatoes. You roast them in a low oven, around 175F to 200F for about 6 hours. They become smaller, wrinklier, and juicier. They concentrate down to a sock-you-in-the-face tomato flavor that you never expected. They are almost syrupy. You really should try them. Like, now.
I'm super lucky because I realized that my oven has a cooking timer. So I just sliced these in half, sprinkled them with herbes de provence, set them in the oven with a six hour timer, and went to bed.
And so the next day, my usual pasta, tomato and goat cheese salad became the infinitely more interesting sounding "Whole Wheat Couscous with Goat Cheese and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes". Spiffy huh? You can make it all pretty and layer the couscous, then the tomatoes, then the goat cheese, but I like to just jumble it all up together in a tangy, sticky mess.
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life
This really is a good way to coax flavor out of unimpressive tomatoes. Don't worry about using fancy ones here.
8 Roma Tomatoes, halved
1 Teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or use 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander)
2 Pinches Salt
Place the tomatoes with the cut side up on a non-stick baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt and herbes de provence. Bake at 175F for approximately six hours. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
Whole Wheat Couscous with Goat Cheese and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
Feel free to play with the cheese here. Use feta, or another crumbly, salty cheese if you aren't a goat cheese fan. You can also use regular couscous. I used whole wheat because it is what I had on hand.
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Couscous
1 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons Crumbled Goat Cheese (or feta)
2 Slow Roasted Tomatoes, chopped
Place the water and couscous in a pan and simmer, covered until the couscous is cooked and there is no water left in the pan, about seven minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice and the olive oil, season with salt and pepper then set aside to cool all the way.
When the couscous is cool, add in the tomatoes and goat cheese. I tend to then mush them all together when I eat it. The flavors compliment each other wonderfully with just the right amount of sticky syrupy tomato and a delicious amount of cool goat cheese.