I worked as an assistant cookbook editor for a major publishing house for three years, and during that time I acquired a lot of cookbooks. They were heaped under my desk at the office (next to another equally large and unsettling pile of “work” shoes), and stacked in my apartment on the coffee table, on top of the toaster oven, and next to my bed. I had cookbooks devoted entirely to cornbread, figs, apples, peanut butter, tomatoes, and potatoes. I loved them all, and I still do.
When I left my job to go to graduate school, I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, to a much smaller apartment. Unable to give away even a single cookbook, I took boxes of them to my parents’ house in Massachusetts, effectively transferring all those piles and stacks to my mother’s kitchen (thanks mom!). Eight years later I still haven’t quite managed to pick them up.
So, from time to time, when my mom visits, she brings me one of my now-forgotten treasures. Most recently, it was The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman. I can’t believe I completely blanked on this book for almost a decade! It’s so fabulous, I can’t stop compulsively flipping through it and flagging recipes with Post-Its.
One of the first things I made was this tomato-garlic confit. Plum tomatoes are roasted with a shower of fresh thyme and garlic and then mashed up with sherry vinegar and a pinch of sugar. It’s quick, rustic, and versatile. Andrea pairs it with spaghetti squash, but I served it over fusilli. If you have carnivores in your family, you can toss in some cooked, crumbled sausage (that’s what I did for Alex and he loved it). Leftover confit is delicious as a topping for crostini or as a spread in sandwiches. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
- 14 large, ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4-5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 1/2-1 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, and thyme on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down, in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes. Scatter the sliced garlic over the tomatoes. Roast for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender, wrinkled, and beginning to brown. (There will be a lot of liquid on the baking sheet. Don't worry.)
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the tomatoes cool slightly. If you can, peel the skins off the tomatoes and discard. If the skins won't budge, it's not a big deal. Your confit will still be delicious.
- Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, and accumulated juices to a large bowl and stir in the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Using a wooden spoon, mash the tomatoes into a chunky sauce. Taste the confit and add more salt, pepper to taste.