Tomato Tomato Tomato (A Week of Vegetables)

Tomato Tomato Tomato (A Week of Vegetables)

Yesterday was Day 3 of A Week of Vegetables. (I didn’t write about Day 2 because it consisted largely of leftovers from Day 1. Plus, I had a bizarre visitor springing out of the “fertile playground” [thanks, Santos!] above my kitchen ceiling, so I didn’t feel much like cooking.) But by Day 3, I was used to seeing that now-shriveled weed, and it was time to have some fun with tomatoes.

I started a new freelance gig yesterday, which lucky for me is just a few blocks from Union Square and its famed farmer’s market. On my way home yesterday, I stopped to check things out, and brought home two pints of fat blueberries, three lovely-ugly purple-red heirloom tomatoes, and two pints of orange Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. (The blueberries don’t have anything to do with our story, dear readers, and only serve as a momentary distraction. You might call them a blue herring.)

When I got home, I tossed the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish with a chiffonade of basil and some sliced garlic and roasted them quickly, until they burst, and then set them aside to cool—those molten nuggets would melt the roof of your mouth if you ate one right away.

Adam over at the Amateur Gourmet made something similar recently, to serve over pasta. That’s one of my favorite uses for this simple preparation (it’s also wonderful as a side with a not-too-fussy chicken or fish dish), but last night it felt like too much of a potchke, as my mother would say. I made plain couscous instead, figuring the saucy juices from the tomatoes would go well with something so dry. Next I sliced the heirlooms medium-thick and arrayed them on a plate, topped them with torn basil and mint leaves, and drizzled all with tart-sweet fig balsamic vinegar.

When that was done I pulled out Saturday night’s remaining gazpacho to take off a bit of the refrigerator’s chill—if you serve it too cold, it dulls the flavor. By the time S came home a little while later, our Tomato Tomato Tomato dinner was just about ready. (Sounds so much nicer than John Belushi grunting “cheesboorga cheeseboorga cheeseboorga,” don’t you think?) All that was left to do was stir the tomatoes and the couscous together, gently, so as not to deflate the golden beauties entirely.

It was a wonderful feast—quick, healthy, and very, very satisfying. And since the oven was on for barely 20 minutes, I didn’t even break a sweat.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Couscous
Serves 4

Olive oil cooking spray
2 pints cherry tomatoes, stemmed and washed
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Handful of basil leaves, slivered
Salt & pepper
1 ½ cups uncooked couscous

Preheat oven to 450. Spray a large baking dish with the cooking spray and add the tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Give them a good spritz with the spray as well, and toss with salt & pepper. Roast for 12-15 minutes, just until most of the tomatoes have burst.

Meanwhile, make the couscous according to package directions (usually it’s an equal amount of water and couscous—bring the water just to a boil with a little salt, add the couscous, and turn it off to sit covered for five minutes).

Just before serving, gently combine the tomatoes and the couscous—you don’t want to stir too vigorously or the tomatoes will turn to mush. If you like, add a little more fresh basil.