This summer was quite an odd one with more than a few misadventures including, watching our plane to Athens fly over the house without us. Couldn’t leave the cat behind! We thought Lucy was out and about, and looked all over. The stress mounted and we changed our tickets but still no Lucy. Turns out, she was curled up asleep in a bedroom closet. Aye, aye, aye. We had to stay an extra week…..
Yeah, I’m pretty sure I know just how much sympathy is coming my way on that one!
The night before we left, we had a friend to dinner. We’d been busy all day getting the house ready to close up and we had no car during that extra week; so the meal had to be made out of what was left in the fridge and the larder: slim pickings. I also wanted to use up what I could so decided against my usual easy, peasy, roasted peppers.
As luck would have it, a neighbour had dropped by with a couple of kilos of small tomatoes the day before and I had made confit tomatoes with them (also known as sun blush in the UK). Rummaging around, I also found some feta, capers, olives, peppers, onions, a few anchovies, garlic, dill and parsley (but I had to save the herbs for the main course).
Here is the approximate recipe, including how I did the tomatoes.
For the tomatoes:
Note: you can do this with any quantity
Preheat oven to 100 °C / 210 °F …or leave it till later – it doesn’t take long!
1 kilo small round tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes (small Roma tomatoes work well too)
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper
best you can afford olive oil
Halve the tomatoes and take out the seeds and middle bits. Do this over a bowl. All that juice and those tomato innards will be great added to soups or pasta sauces-sieve to remove the seeds first.. Put the empty tomato halves in another bowl. This takes a while so it’s nice to have a friend nearby to chat to. When you’ve gutted all the tomatoes, add the olive oil-I started with a little over a tablespoon and then added a tiny bit more. You want the tomatoes to be lightly coated with oil not floating around in it. The best way to judge this is with your spotlessly clean hands. Season with salt and pepper and add the oregano and thyme (I used dried basil in Greece because it comes in whole leaves and is excellent-I’ve never seen dried basil like that in France, the UK or Canada.) Mix everything together until the herbs are nicely distributed-add more to taste. Place the tomatoes, empty side up, on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for two and a half hours. When they are done, let cool and put in a bowl…taste a couple. Yummy!
If you aren’t going to use them in the next couple of days, put them in a jar with a few slivers of garlic and more olive oil. This oil will be delicious after the tomatoes are gone for vinaigrette or for basting vegetables before grilling.
For the peppers. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade
Count at least one good sized pepper per person-they’re delicious the next day if you have leftovers. I had about 250 grams of feta (a slab about the size of my palm and about an inch thick) which I put in a bowl and broke up with a fork. I cut up about half a cup of my little tomatoes with scissors directly into the bowl, and added:
a small handful of chopped capers (if they are in liquid be sure to drain and rinse first),
a small handful of chopped black olives,
a handful of finely chopped red onion
5 canned anchovies (omit to make vegetarian)
1/2 tsp each hot and mild paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
lots of freshly ground black pepper-no salt (you’ll have to taste)
I mixed it all up and was surprised at how good it tasted. If I was doing it again, I would add dill and/or parsley.
I shared out the mixture between the peppers (already de-seeded and cut in quarters) and put them on a cookie sheet with a couple of tablespoons of water. They were in there for about forty minutes but I was keeping an eye on them after twenty.
The great thing about this dish is you can play around with different ingredients. I think toasted pine nuts would be a great addition, for instance. You can serve them warm or at room temperature.
And here’s the sunset from that last night. Bon appetit, everyone.