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~ Roasted Campari Tomatoes with Asiago & Basil ~

IMG_3663Over the past couple of days I worked on a very special panzanella salad recipe.  I was asked to come up with a twist on this classic Italian salad recipe by my friend and local restauranteur extrordinaire Scott Lucchesi.  Let me cut to the chase, he loved my spin on this salad, and, announced it will be appearing on his sports bar and/or restaurant menus very soon.  You can get my recipe for ~ Roast-Chicken Caprese-Panzanella Pasta-Salad ~ by clicking on the Related Article link below.  After developing and posting any recipe, I'm often faced with primo leftover ingredients -- there's no shame in that.  Today, I find myself with about a dozen small Campari tomatoes, almost a cup of grated Asiago cheese and, some lovely fresh basil leaves. Obviously these are great pizza toppings, but, one of my favorite side-dishes, came to mind first:

IMG_3642The always-in-season "tomato lovers tomato" side-dish!

IMG_3536A bit about Campari tomatoes:  Known as "the tomato lovers tomato" (both the name and the slogan are trademarked), they are a type of tomato known for their juiciness, tart and sweet taste without being acidic, and, firm user-friendly texture.  They are deep red in color, round and smallish in size (a little bigger than a golf ball and much smaller than a tennis ball), and, more often than not are sold TOV (tomato on vine).  They've become extremely popular, especially by tomato lovers like me, because they are available all year long.  Unlike ALL other store-bought tomatoes, they pack all of the flavor of the ones I will harvest from my garden at the height of the Summer season.  Like other tomatoes, they should never be stored in the refrigerator.  While refrigeration extends shelf life, it causes them to lose flavor, so, I'm posting this recipe today while they are still at their best.  My world is a much better place because of Campari tomatoes!

Adjust this recipe proportionately to make as many as you want!

IMG_3545~ Step 1.  Rinse, pat dry, and slice in half (pole to pole):

7-8 Campari tomatoes  

IMG_3562"Arrange" them, sliced side up, in a 9" round au gratin dish (or a pie dish).  I am an over-compulsive, neatnick nutjob, so, I arrange mine decoratively!

IMG_3572 IMG_3555~ Step 2. Using a garlic press, process (do not mince):

4  large cloves of garlic

Distribute the garlic chards over the tomatoes, spreading them around with your fingertips.  You can use more garlic or no garlic, but, for me, it's 4 large cloves on 8 tomatoes!

IMG_3578~ Step 3.  Evenly drizzle:

8 tablespoons EVOO

followed by a sprinkling of:

8 tablespoons finely-grated asiago cheese

IMG_3589over the top. You can substitute Parm-Regg, but asiago knocks this dish out of the park!

IMG_3604~ Step 4.  Lastly, sprinkle:

1-1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend (I do not recommend fresh herbs here)

1/2-1  teaspoon red pepper flakes

IMG_3599evenly over all.  Roast on center rack of preheated 400 degree oven, 15-18 minutes...

IMG_3625... until bubbly and lightly golden (do not overcook).  Remove from oven and set aside 1-2 minutes.  

IMG_3611While tomatoes rest a bit, thinly-slice about:

4-6 tablespoons chiffonade (French word for "to cut into rags or ribbons") of fresh basil leaves

Top the bubbling hot tomatoes with the chards of fresh basil...

IMG_3629... wait a moment or two for the basil to get fragrant and serve:

IMG_3731Roasted Campari Tomatoes with Asiago & Basil:  Recipe yields 4-6 servings, planning on 3-4 per person (I can easily eat 4 myself).

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 9" round au gratin dish or glass pie plate (or a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole if double the recipe)

IMG_0789Cook's Note:  In the event you still have a couple of tomatoes, some asiago cheese and basil leftover, my recipe for  ~ Tomato-Basil Pita Pizza:  My Favorite Snack Meal ~ can be found in Categories 2, 14, or 20 -- a perfect midnight muse!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)


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