Freshly picked tomatoes are dead sexy. Their skin is warm to the touch, smooth, and a rich red that screams to be bitten into. When you do, the flesh inside initially resists before giving way and melting in your mouth with sweetness finely honed over many long summer days in the sun.
While best eaten raw, there are way to cook these gems of August without destroying, and even enhancing, their lovely flavor, texture, and aroma. One such method is used here. By baking the tomatoes “en papillote”, or in a parchment paper packet, they are gently steamed. The fresh rosemary, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil meld with the tomatoes adding depth to their flavor profile.
Although serving on pasta would work fine, I prefer to continue the “bounty of summer” theme by pairing them with eggplant rollatini – eggplant rolled around a mixture of fresh ricotta and herbs. The dish is vegetarian without the glaring omission of meat, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. Rather, the tomatoes, eggplant, and ricotta marry together in a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.
Serve as a main with a hunk of crusty bread or on it’s own as a light starter.
- 6 fresh plum tomatoes, washed and quartered
- 1 small onion, peeled and cut into eighths
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 medium eggplant
- ¾ cup ricotta, whole fat if possible
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, rosemary, evoo, salt and pepper in a parchment paper packet (How To) inside a small baking dish.
- Close up the packet and roast for 30-40 minutes.
- Slice eggplant ¼” thick and “grill” on a grill in an oiled skillet for 3-4 minutes per side.
- Combine ricotta, parsley, nutmeg, chili, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Remove packet of tomatoes from the oven, open, and mash with a large spoon, creating a loose and chunky sauce.
- Roll eggplant slices with 2 tbsp of ricotta each and serve on top of tomato sauce.
- Garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve.