What can you do with flavourless tomatoes? Slice them and oven roast them for 20 minutes to concentrate their flavour. Oven roasted tomato slices are delicious served with mozzarella, dribbled with olive oil, seasoning and fresh basil.
Serve them as bites on cocktail sticks for parties or pre-dinner drinks (l’apéritif). Also makes an elegant, healthy starter/appetizer at any time of year.
What Can I Do with Flavourless Tomatoes?
Sadly, these days – even in France – we often find ourselves buying tomatoes that lack in flavour. There’s nothing to beat homegrown but when we can’t grow our own tomatoes, we can be left with slightly tasteless ones. Especially when they’re out of season or a bit tired at the supermarket.
So what can you do with them? Roast them. That’s what I did one festive season out of sheer experimentation and ever since, never looked back. They were a hit with the family (our girls adore them this way) and friends.
Roasting the tomatoes for a few minutes first makes all the difference.When I say roast – it’s not slow roasting for long – it’s only 20 minutes and no more. The secret is to slice them and roast them directly on the baking sheet, season and dribble with a little olive oil. That’s it (c’est tout).
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
I can’t stress enough that the better the produce you use for this, the better the taste will be all round. Use good quality fresh mozzarella (bufala/buffalo milk variety even better): either balls or chopped into little bite-sized pieces. Top each tomato slice along with a bit of fresh basil, salt and olive oil – if you really need to. Please don’t use balsamic vinegar, as it will totally destroy the overall flavour.
My Italian-blooded friend, Christina Conte, also feels the same way, as a genuine Caprese salad doesn’t include it – read Christina’s hold back on balsamic etc. on Caprese salads!
The flavour ends up being so full of blissful tomato, that you’ll just want to eat it as is. Don’t believe me? Just try it! It also goes without saying – if you have tomatoes in season full of flavour – just prepare them fresh and dress in this way. Moreover, to French it up a bit, replace mozzarella with slices of fresh goat’s cheese (chèvre).
How to Roast Tomatoes
Quick-roasting in the oven for just 20 minutes concentrates the tomato flavour. What’s more, there’s no need for any fancy extra ingredients – as long as they are good quality. Once out of the oven and cool, keep it simple by adding good olive oil, salt and pepper .
What kind of tomatoes are best? I use the longer tomato variety, as they give off less juice and so are ideal for roasting quickly (e.g. Torino, Roma, ‘Cornue des Andes’).
For more, see Market Produce Tomatoes.
- Wash and dry tomatoes.
- Slice the tomatoes not too thinly (about 1.5cm/half inch) so that they’ll roast and not burn (they should be still wet when done).
- Place slices on a baking tray with baking parchment paper.
- Roast in the oven at 170°C/150°C fan/340°F/Gas 3 for about 20 minutes until roasted but not brown.
- Leave them to cool on the baking tray.
- Meanwhile, place the mozzarella balls in a bowl with the olive oil, sea salt and pepper then pierce a cocktail stick into both the cheese and tomato slice. (If using a bigger, whole mozzarella, cut into slices and dribble over the olive oil and seasoning as you sandwich and stack them together.)
- Finish with a few torn basil leaves.
Luckily our mini dwarf basil plant hasn’t grilled completely in this Parisian heatwave. What’s more, we’ve got some pretty little edible basil flowers. If you’re one of these people who puts the flowers to the side of the plate or picks them off, please don’t.
Fresh herb flowers are delicious garnish – and pack a punch with a concentrated basil that explodes on the palette!
Bland Tomatoes? Oven Roast Them
Great party food and excellent served with drinks at any time of year. By roasting the tomatoes, the flavour is concentrated and so even the blandest of tomatoes can be livened up for a party. Although the better the tomatoes, the more your toes will curl with the pure and simple taste.
If serving as a starter or appetizer, then simply serve with a few chopped bits of avocado and sliced radishes.
Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella
- 5 Tomatoes (organic) (I use Roma, long tomatoes)
- 1 tsp fleur de sel sea salt
- pepper, to taste (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 300 g (11oz) fresh mozzarella balls (if small, one per tomato slice, otherwise cut in half)
- 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves to top each tomato
- Slice the tomatoes not too thinly (about 1.5cm/half inch) so that they'll roast and not burn (they should be still wet when done). Place slices on a baking tray with baking parchment paper. (If making for a stacked starter, keep slices evident in order for each tomato to make quick & easy assembly later)Roast in the oven at 170°C/150°C fan/340°F/Gas 3 for about 20 minutes until roasted but not brown.
- Leave to cool on the baking tray. Meanwhile, place the mozzarella balls in a bowl with the olive oil, sea salt and pepper. (If using a bigger, whole mozzarella, cut into slices and dribble over the olive oil and seasoning.)
- Place the basil then mozzarella balls on each tomato slice and using a tooth pick, lift off each tomato slice, skewering the pick into the tomato and mozzarella and transfer to a serving plate. If there are leftover tomato slices, place one on top to make a sandwich.
This recipe was first published on 26 July 2019 but has now been updated with new images and made easier to read.
More Party Food Ideas
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