Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Summertime Roasted Tomatoes and Onions Platter
Summertime Roasted Tomatoes and Onions Platter

While I’m not a big fan of summer heat and sun (blue-eyed redheads burn easily), I do look forward to summer each year for the goodies this season brings; local berries, garden vegetables, fresh ripe peaches, and best of all, cooking outside on the grill. It is with great pleasure each summer that I uncover my grill and dust it off to ready it for the grilling season.

I usually focus on the main course when grilling so I’m always on the lookout for simple side dishes to complement my grilled centerpieces. I love unusual salads and side dishes that can be prepared in advance and served at room temperature. I really hit the jackpot with this one and I know it will make appearances at many a cookout this year. Its name doesn’t do it justice, but its picture sure does.

Part salad part vegetable side dish, this luscious platter partnered perfectly with grilled loin lamb chops at my Memorial Day cookout. It could also serve as a first course with good crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices. Personally, with some bread and a bottle of wine, I could make an entire meal of it.

The sweet onions, oven roasted until tender and the edges are caramelized golden, just melt in your melt. Made with only onions and olive oil, they are magically transformed and become as sweet as honey. The tomatoes are roasted until their flavor is concentrated and rich. Their acidity nicely balances the sweet onions. The dish is finished with a mound of fresh ricotta cheese, a liberal drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a shower of fresh basil confetti.

Roasted Tomatoes and Onions
Adapted From Celebrate! By Sheila Lukins

Yield 8 servings

8 medium sweet onions, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
16 small ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pound fresh ricotta or goat cheese
Coarse sea salt (like Fleur de Sel)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
Crusty bread for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the onion slices in one layer on two to four baking sheets and brush both sides of each slice with olive oil.

Place the tomatoes cut side up in one or two small, shallow pans and brush the tops with olive oil.

Roast the onions for 25 – 35 minutes, turning them after 15 minutes. When they are done they will be golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Roast the tomatoes until the centers are soft and the skins are charred, about 25 minutes.

To serve, spoon the ricotta or goat cheese in the center of a large platter. Separate the onion slices into rings and place them in four even piles around the ricotta on the platter. Arrange the tomatoes between the onions. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with any remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the basil.

Serve warm or at room temperature with bread to soak up the juices and oil.

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