Celebrating the Hanover Roasted Tomato: Blogfest, Part 7

     A week of celebration is the least that I can do for our beloved Hanover Tomato.  These local jewels opened my eyes to the fact that fresh and local is completely different from the cardboard imposters that show up year round in chain restaurants and large grocery conglomerates.  As an Avad Fan, I think the Hanover Tomato should be recognized across the country as our nation’s best.

     A few years ago, non-native Richmond resident, Terry Taylor of Big River Advertising, wrote a humorous blogpost called “The Tomato War”.  He pitted his native and beloved Alabama tomatoes against the Hanover variety.  He seemed surprised that it turned out to be no contest and became a convert. 

     It’s time that Hanover County started a campaign to have its tomato designated the “national tomato” or at least have the week preceding or succeeding the Hanover Tomato Festival named National Hanover Tomato Week.  On the other hand, if our local secret were to get out, demand might so outweigh supply that we couldn’t get our tomato fix when we needed it at $1.99/pound.  There’s a reason that I’m not in marketing.  Enough of my tomato pastey musings and on to today’s tomato technique which has so many possible applications that it staggers the culinary imagination.

     I stumbled upon this approach for roasting plum tomatoes last summer while searching for an appetizer idea for a girls’ night out.  Part of Bon Appetit’s elegant Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Prosciutto appetizer, the  recipe explains that roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor.  I can attest to that.  The roasting is a breeze after allowing the tomatoes to briefly marinate.  The result works in appetizers, and I can only imagine how great these roasted tomatoes would be lightly pulverized in the food processor and tossed with some pasta and cheese (sounds like dinner in the near future to me).

     To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 425°.  For the marinade, combine the following in a large bowl:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Quarter your tomatoes (I used 6 plum tomatoes, but this marinade could easily cover 10), place them in the bowl and coat.  Let them sit for at least 5 minutes.  Remove the tomatoes from the bowl and place on a baking sheet.  Roast for 36 minutes just until the tomato skins begin to blister.

     We dined on appetizers last night as we sat outside enjoying some seasonably moderate temperatures with low humidity.  Instead of Bon Appetit’s fancy Bruschetta, I made my own more pedestrian version.  I did brush the marinade on to 12 slices of a fresh baguette and toast them for 10 minutes in the same 425° oven.  Then I spread Alouette’s Garlic & Herb cheese over them and topped each with two roasted tomato quarters.  The microgreens that the Bon Appetit recipe suggests would have been a nice finish, but I was fresh out and it had been a long day.

     Deeply delicious, the Roasted Plum Tomatoes are such a fitting ending to this week of celebrating the local tomato.  Just because the blogfest is finished doesn’t mean that my Hanover Tomato days are over.  We’ve still got over two months of summer left to enjoy the local harvest, and I am planning to squeeze out every bit of pleasure from it that I can.  Bon appétit, ya’ll!

All photos by Avad Fan.


One Comment on “Celebrating the Hanover Roasted Tomato: Blogfest, Part 7”

  1. Anne says:

    Besides the fabulous content, I am really enjoying your photography! Headed to the South of the James/Forest Hill Park farmer’s market this Saturday morning to buy some of those Hanover beauties and will give your recipe a go. Thanks! (Avad should definitely check out that market — 50+ years and going very strong. Get there early for best selection of beautiful organic flowers from Amy’s Garden — all the way in the back of the market — starts at 8am.)

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