This past week, my husband committed the ultimate family member of a food blogger faux pas. He ate the ingredients. You see, earlier in the week, I had carefully picked out a lovely collection of small tomatoes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and then hidden them in the back of the fridge behind a bunch of other stuff to keep them safe. Proving that it is impossible to hide anything from a man in search of food, over half of them had disappeared before I got around to cooking this up.
A delicious warm tomato salad, with red onion and feta. A great tomato side dish, especially with winter tomatoes. Nice for the buffet table, too!
To his credit, my husband did offer to bring home some replacements after work, but patience isn’t a particular virtue of mine. The store is a one-hour round trip away and I did have some other tomatoes in the fridge, so I decided to make do. NOT to his credit, ever since he has been randomly and annoyingly wondering out loud if there were more good tomatoes in the fridge he could eat. I’m questioning his level of remorse ;)
So my lesson learned! Sticky notes warning of all manner of dire consequences for touching “the ingredients” will be employed in future.
The larger tomatoes on the vine in the middle of my dish are the “making do” in this dish. While lovely, they are really too large to roast up well in a short time, and they have too much juice in them that spills out when cut. We don’t really want to add juice to this dish. This one’s all about slow, dry roasting and transforming tomatoes into little bites of rich, tomato-y goodness. The smaller cherry tomatoes on the vine would be a great choice in place of these larger ones. Look for different shapes, sizes and colours of small-ish tomatoes, aiming for nothing larger than golf-ball size. Any large tomato will work for the slices.
Feta is such interesting cheese. Despite extended time in the oven, it really doesn’t melt in any way. It remains firm and really just warms. Just remember that feta is very salty, so watch the amount of extra salt you add to the dish. I try to control myself and not add any additional salt until the end and then, only as needed.
This dish is a great weeknight side with chicken or fish. It’s also perfect for a buffet table as it holds it’s own while it sits and is delicious warm or at room temperature, so no need to worry about keeping this one hot. And finally, this dish is winter perfect, when tomatoes are less than fresh-from-the-field and no where near as flavourful. Roasting can transform them into something wonderful, so there’s no need to pass by them in the store during the winter any more!
- 1 medium-large red or yellow onion
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Variety of small tomatoes, such as cherry, grape etc. no larger than golf-ballish size
- A couple of larger tomatoes, cut into thick slices
- 6-7 oz. (200 g) block of feta cheese, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
- Fresh basil leaves (or 1/2-1 tsp. dried basil)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Salt, for finishing (*feta is salty, so don't salt until the end and only a bit is needed)
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Cut onion into thin wedges. Place in baking dish or roasting pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Place feta slices into roasting pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Scatter any feta crumbles around the pan. Place a large tomato slice over most of the large rounds of feta. Scatter smaller tomatoes around the pan. Give one final drizzle of olive oil over tomatoes and a bit of freshly ground pepper (if using dried basil, you can add now, as well). Return to the oven and roast another 35-45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then lower the heat and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside.
- Allow to cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves, a bit of salt and drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar. Serve warm.