On most Sunday afternoons (though not so much in December and January) you would have a fairly good chance of finding us on our shaded back patio spending time with our trusty pizza oven. We will be stoking the fire with oak wine barrel staves, putting in or taking out one blistered pizza after another or checking on the golden chicken or vegetables we have put in to roast. As the temperature drops, we might even bake a pie or slow-roast some tomatoes, onions or grapes. Or all of the above, in consecutive order.
Life with a pizza oven is one of plenty, and the oven has often transformed the rewards of our garden into memorable feasts with friends and family. If you are one of the lucky ones and have your very own pizza oven, you’ll get a nice, smoky finish enhancing the flavor of these roasted tomatoes. This is a fine way to use tomatoes even if they’re not primo ripe; roasting them will intensify the flavor. If you don’t have a pizza oven, you can shrivel them in your oven at 250 degrees for a few hours until they are still a bit soft and have a little juice left. Then put them on your pizza to melt with Taleggio cheese and when it’s done, cast some basil and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano over the top with lots of black pepper.
Cherry tomatoes or (even better) Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise, enough to fill a sheet pan in an uncrowded manner
A handful of fresh rosemary leaves, not an over-abundance, maybe a brimming teaspoon
Sea salt, enough to make a difference
Freshly ground black pepper, ¼ – ½ teaspoon
GOOD olive oil
Put the tomatoes, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large bowl and add enough olive oil to make the tomatoes shine. Toss them well to coat and spread them in a sheet pan, cut side up and put them into your pre-heated, just below “hot” pizza oven. Leave the door open and check often. You don’t want them to dry out in an oven that’s too hot. They should be ready in about two hours. If the oven starts out hot, just let the fire die down while the tomatoes roast, until it’s just glowing embers at the end.