Fresh produce figured big in my younger years; Santa Rosa plums and saucer peaches, Meyer lemons and guavas, and the ubiquitous orange. California was the bottomless fruit cup.
Yet it is the cherry tomato that tugs at my heart with its pop-squirt taste memory. I was a typical chore-averse teenager but I always volunteered for watering. My mom grew cherry tomatoes against the hot white wall of our house facing out to the Pacific. A lawn-less narrow sloping lot, it was quick work. I alternated between eating the warm fruit and slurping the chilly hose water. Since then, sampling a cherry tomato outside never fails to conjure up a flash of that pure joy; the tangy bursting bite while dancing water droplets mirrored tiny repeating prisms.
The cherry tomato is like the golden retriever of vegetables; energetic and eager to please. You pick and pick, fill bowls and baskets. They look so cute, so red, so round. Until three days later when you notice a sort-of brassy smell, and then as they collapse under their own juicy weight, the fruit flies. Soon you're suffering from cherry tomato guilt; after all you can only eat so many salads.
Tomaccio tomatoes straight from the garden The Garden Buzz
This year I grew three varieties, in pots, due to my previously mentioned sun shortages; Tumbling Tom, Sweet 100 and Tomaccio. Tom tumbled just fine but lacked in taste. Sweet 100 was yummy but cracked like a cat's-eye with our drought/deluge weather scenario of summer 2009.
Tomaccio is new to America this year, destined for garden centers in 2010. Grown in warm parts of Europe for years, the fruit is left to dry on the vine, resulting in a raisin-like snack. I was given 6 plants to trial from C. Raker and Sons.(I gave three to my in-laws in Illinois) Instructions say to dry them in a 100 degree oven for 3-4 hours. My in-laws, further south harvested prolific amounts much sooner. Their drying activities were successful. With an oven that only drops to 170 degrees, and a cold ripening period this year, my experiment failed, however the Tomaccio wasn't to blame. It was vigorous and delicious, as promised
But never fear! Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta is a sure-fire solution for Cherry Tomato Guilt, and made all the better by Tomaccio. More a suggestion than a recipe: Drizzle a baking dish with olive oil, cut the tomatoes in half and place them cut-side up in the dish. Take equal amounts of bread crumbs (stale baguette, old hot dog buns, whatever) and freshly-grated parmesan cheese, mix with finely minced garlic, 2 cloves, more or less to taste. Salt and pepper. Moisten this with more olive oil, then sprinkle over the tomatoes. Chopped herbs would be a great addition. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes and then spoon over cooked pasta. This time I added a little pesto from last week's one-woman pesto making party. Voila...dinner.
Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta The Garden Buzz