Thursday, July 28, 2011

Attack of the Roasted Cherry Tomato Plants

Recipe: Mediterranean Pasta 
I've written about my crazy tomato plants in previous posts, but they have gotten a bit crazier lately.  I'm not quite sure how to describe them, but if they were human, I'd say they are bionic or maybe some kind of mutant possessing super human strength.   Last year I grew one of these crazy Sweet Millions tomato plants.  I named her Audrey II.  Remember Little Shop of Horrors?  It took on a life of its own.  This year I have two Sweet Millions.  Well, two that I planted.  Remember that cult movie "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes"?  I'm beginning to wonder about mine.  Let me show you.

This is the smaller of the two plants I planted in May:
This is the larger one.  A small child could get lost in it.
I have a third plant now...a volunteer I found growing in a small patch of dirt next to my fence.  I planted it in a pot last month and lo and behold...a beautiful new plant grows.
It now has tomatoes.  I'm certain it is a Sweet Millions.  It will be moving to Manhattan very soon to live with Melissa.  She never tried to grow anything when she lived on Long Island, and now that she is a city dweller, she is trying to grow veggies in a courtyard.  If anything will survive, this baby will.  Now wait, I'm not done.  About two or three weeks ago I was getting out of my car in the driveway and saw what I believed to be an opportunistic weed growing in a tiny crack between the driveway and the house.  I went to pull it out and stopped dead in my tracks. I seeing things?  Another volunteer tomato had appeared.  And,  ANOTHER one was just starting to grow just 6 feet away.  It had only 4 leaves but it was definitely a tomato.  I couldn't pull them out with their root in tact so I thought I'd just leave them and see how long they would last.  After all, they do not get watered there unless it rains.   They are literally growing in a thread of sand between a brick house and a concrete driveway.  Seriously, could they possibly survive?  You may not be able to see it, but this one now is flowering.
This is the smallest one of all...I sure hope it doesn't crack my foundation!  BTW, it too has flowers.
The big plants are packed solid with tomatoes.  Last weekend we picked over 3 pounds.  This past weekend, we picked another 5 pounds.  We've been  picking tomatoes since July 3rd, and they keep on coming!
We've been eating and sharing tomatoes for a few weeks now.  Recently,  I decided to roast a few pounds of these buggers and create a pasta dish with some ingredients I had on hand.  I've made many a fresh pasta sauce with cherry tomatoes by way of a quick saute adding a bit of garlic and fresh herbs.  This time, I was looking for a more concentrated tomato flavor so it would hold up to the other ingredients I planned to include in this dish.   I wanted to use some of the pesto I had made a few days earlier.  I also had some feta cheese and kalamata olives that I knew would go nicely in the mix.
Mediterranean Pasta
Serves 6 as a main course

  • 6 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pound pasta (use an interesting shape, farfalle, small shells or gemelli)
  • 2 tablespoons Pesto
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Put the cut tomatoes in a 13 x 9 Pyrex baking dish.  Toss in the olive oil, balsamic, garlic and oregano.  Season heavily with fresh ground pepper.  I did not use any salt because I use feta and olives in this dish.  If you use another cheese such as mozzarella, add some salt to the tomatoes.

Roast for 45 minutes, stirring 2 times during the roasting process.
While tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Cook pasta according to directions on the box.
When pasta is done, drain and place in a large bowl.
Add the pesto and toss.
Add the roasted tomatoes with all of their juices and toss.

Add the feta and olives, giving a final toss and serve.

    Any leftovers can be eaten warm or cold.  It makes a wonderful pasta salad.  I added in some cubed zucchini the next day.

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