For me, few foods -- save for blackberries and watermelon -- conjure summer (or childhood) like tomatoes. Although the growing season in California is nearly year round, I associate tomatoes' cheerful skin (and shape!) and sweet-tart flavor with summer months. And something about their salty/mineral fragrance reminds me of evening rain on sun-warmed soil.
Summer won't officially be here for a few more weeks, but I like knowing I can get a taste of it (almost) anytime. So I keep baskets of cherry and grape tomatoes on hand for snacking. I just pop them into my mouth -- no need to dress them up or fashion them into sauce or pie (though making tomato tarts is on my To Do list).
But let's say you do feel like doing something a little more glamorous with them, or perhaps the tomatoes in your area haven't yet reached their peak flavor. Roasting them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt is just the thing to jazz them up without making too fine a point of it.
They're a great topping for fish, pasta, bread and vegetables. But be careful. You just might find yourself plucking them from the baking sheet and popping them into your mouth.
Oh, and another thing: your house will smell like a tomato patch that's been warming in the sun all day and it's just begun to rain.
Or am I overselling it?
Roasted Baby Tomatoes
1 pint cherry and/or grape tomatoes, rinsed and dried
About 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
About 1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mound the tomatoes in the center of the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, toss the tomatoes with the oil and salt to coat evenly, and scatter the tomatoes on the baking sheet. Be sure not to crowd the tomatoes together, or they'll steam instead of roast.
2. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to wilt and wrinkle. Using a spoon or spatula, gently stir and toss the tomatoes around on the baking sheet and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have a slight char.