Monday, September 17, 2007

Cherry Tomatoes with Roasted Broccoli

One of my favorite sights walking the garden are the cherry tomato plants. They are lit up like Christmas with their clusters of fruit, telling the other plants to get on with it and make hay while the sun shines.

There's always the question what to do with so many ripe cherry tomatoes. You can slice them in half for a very simple summer salad, dressed with a chiffonade of basil and extra-virgin olive oil. They go well with those little balls of marinated mozzarella you sometimes see in the grocery.

I particularly like this recent recipe from Martha Stewart Living that calls for tossing cherry tomato halves with roasted broccoli and white beans. For the beans, I use those marinated giant white beans on display next to the various olives at the Whole Foods. The finished dish, when dressed with some mustard and red wine vinegar, is wonderfully unctuous and flavorful.

Roast the florets from two bunches of broccoli tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and some sliced garlic in a 375-degree oven. The broccoli should be just tender after 15 or 20 minutes. Toss together with a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, a tablespoon of coarsely chopped fresh oregano and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes. Add 1 1/2 cups of your favorite white beans and a big fistful of spinach, coarsely chopped.

On the side, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Season the salad with just enough of the dressing and more extra-virgin olive oil to taste, as well as course salt and freshly ground black pepper.

It's best to do the seasoning just before serving as the vinegar will invariably turn the broccoli brown. This makes a terrific side dish for grilled meat, served with a lively red wine.

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