Roasted tomatoes in balsamic with shallots and herbs is one of my very favorite dishes. It is quick, It is easy, It is versatile. And most of all it is delicious, seriously delicious. It is a must have in you cooking ‘toolbox’. You can rely on this dish to produce consistently fabulous results every time. It is inexpensive, and as a kicker, it is the kind of food you can cook once and use twice, saving time.
Sometimes when I’m planning meals, I build in ‘leftovers’ into the plan for use in a second meal. I like to call them ‘second acts’. I say that because strictly speaking what remains is not leftovers. Leftovers implies what remains after you have finished your meal. But what I do is different. I plan to make enough of “x” that I can use it one way in a first meal, and a different way in a second meal, or “second act”.
Many Ways to Use Roast Tomatoes in Balsamic
Roasted tomatoes in balsamic is one of those things that I will make and plan a second act with. First of all I love roasted vegetables. Second, it is good in so many ways that you have lots of options to choose from when planning. It makes a great side dish. Or you can use it as a pizza topping. I’ve used it in frittatas and omelettes before. Try it tossed in a salad. Spread it on a crostini like bruschetta. Or use it as a topping for pasta. A quick spin the the food processor and you have a delicious sauce!
In short, this dish is so flexible, you have to have it in your kitchen repertoire. It takes close to no effort to prepare, and can be cooking in the oven while you attend to other things.
Today I’m going to show you how I’ve used roasted tomatoes in balsamic two different ways recently. On the first night I used them as a side dish with a grilled steak and roasted asparagus. On the second night, I used them as a “sauce” with pasta for a super quick, super inexpensive meal.
Easy on the Wallet — Budget Friendly Dish
Not that I spend a whole lot of time sharing ‘prices’ here, but I’m going to make a small exception today. I want to give you some sense of what I mean when I say roasted tomatoes in balsamic is budget friendly.
The grape tomatoes cost me $2.99 for the pound. I spent $0.69 cents on the shallot. The entire garlic head cost about $0.50, so a single clove is about $0.05. The Balsamic that I use cost about $4.00 16 oz bottle, so 2 tablespoons runs about $0.25. (That’s right, no need for the really good stuff. A quality supermarket brand will do in this case) The salt, pepper and oregano together are another $0.05. Altogether, this cost me $4.03. I used it for 2 different meals, so each meal is about $2.02. Each meal was 2 servings, so the roasted tomatoes cost $1.01 per serving.
My two meals were a ribeye steak (divided in 2 portions) with roast asparagus and roasted tomatoes as a side. The second was rigatoni with the roasted tomatoes as the sauce. Costs before adding the tomatoes are as follows. The ribeye was $12.00, the asparagus was $2.00. The whole meal cost $14 for the meal, and $7.00 per serving. The pasta was $1.00 for the box, and we had a half box,. The whole meal was $0.50, or $0.25 per serving.
Make the Budget Work for You
Another way to put is that we spent a total 14.00 + 0.50 + 4.03, or 18.53 for four different servings. That works out to $4.63 per serving.
By stretching the tomatoes in each meal, we gained an advantage. Compound that with a second meal that was so inexpensive, we were able include the ‘luxury’ of a rib eye steak in our meal plan. We don’t often get to do that, but when we take a moment in our plan, and include some well chosen ‘second acts’, we can.
Easy. And Delicious
So we talked about how flexible roast tomatoes in balsamic are. Then we talked about how budget friendly they are. Let’s talk about how easy they are. Do you have a casserole dish of some kind? A pyrex brownie pan? A stoneware baking dish? And an oven? Then you have everything you need to make this. Neither the amounts or time are fussy or precise.
Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. Take a pound of grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or other small tomatoes. Give them a quick rinse, then put them in your baking dish. Take a moment to cut about half of the tomatoes in half.
Grab a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic and slice thin and toss them in with the tomatoes. Add some salt, pepper and herbs (I like oregano and basil). Drizzle the entire thing with about ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. No need for the expensive balsamic here — but use a decent quality grocery store version. Stir it all together and put it in the oven. That’s it. Now comes the hard part. Waiting.
When I was working in technology, we used to have a saying about technology solutions. “Good, Fast, or Cheap. Pick any two” If you wanted something that was good and you needed it quickly, it wasn’t going to be cheap. If you wanted something good, and cheap, it wasn’t going to be fast. And if you wanted something fast and cheap, it wasn’t going to be good.
A little waiting isn’t a bad thing. Use the time!
I have learned that in many ways, that same logic applies to much of life’s choices. And so it is with roasted tomatoes in balsamic. It takes at least 45 minutes to an hour to be ready. You are looking for the tomatoes to start breaking down. The skins to start wrinkling, and the cut edges to begin to show a bit of char. When all this takes place depends somewhat on how ‘juicy’ the tomatoes are, how fresh, and how large they are. When in doubt, err on the side of ‘a few more minutes’ – it is tough to over cook this recipe.
You can use the time the tomatoes are cooking to prep the rest of your meal. That is what I did for the first evening while the tomatoes cooked. I prepped my ribeye, sauteed some mushrooms, and roasted some asparagus.
When I pulled my roasted tomatoes in balsamic out of the oven, I sprinkled a bit of parsley over the top for color. That is not necessary, but you can see it in the pictures below.
Once they were cooked, I took a large spoonful and put it on the plate between the steak and the asparagus. That’s it. Done. Once you have some though, you will find out how delicious it all is. The sweetness of the tomatoes and the shallots really comes through. It is balanced by the tomatoes’ own acidity and that of the vinegar. So simple, but so delicious. Of course I am biased — as I said, one of my all time favorites.
Time for the Second Act!
What I didn’t use as a side dish on the first night, I put is a container and stored in the refrigerator for the second night. I put a pot of water on for the pasta and let that begin to boil. I also took a saute pan large enough to hold the pasta and heated it on a different burner over low heat.
In my plan, I cooked my “second act” the very next night. But you could wait a few days to reuse the roasted tomatoes in balsamic. A good rule of thumb is that foods can be held safely in the refrigerator for three to four days. I can’t say that I have always stuck strictly to this rule. But you are taking your chances with food borne illness if you push your luck too far. Best to stick to the ‘rule of thumb.’
When the water boiled, I salted it and added the pasta. I used a boxed pasta for this meal, but there is no reason you couldn’t use a homemade pasta too. Then I added the leftover tomatoes from the previous evening to the heated saute pan. Turn up the heat a little, and let the tomatoes come to a gentle simmer.
As the pasta finished, I took about a ½ cup of the pasta water and added it to the tomatoes. Turn the heat up to high, and let it begin to aggressively simmer. Add a swirl or two of olive oil and stir. The tomatoes, olive oil and pasta water will begin to subtly thicken creating a ‘sauce’. Drain the pasta and add to the saute pan with the tomatoes and stir it all together. Boom. Done. Plate it and eat it. If I had it, I would have torn a couple of fresh basil leaves and tossed them on top. Instead I used parsley — but basil would have been better.
That’s it — one dish. Two meals, by plan. Low cost. Easy to prepare. And delicious. What more could you ask for. Give it a try, and I think that you’ll be hooked!
Roasted Tomatoes in Balsamic with Shallots
- 1 lb Grape or Cherry Tomatoes Slice half of them in half
- 1 medium Shallot Sliced Thin
- 2 cloves garlic Sliced Thin
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBS dried oregano or other dried herb
- kosher salt to taste
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350oF
- Rinse tomatoes, then slice half of them in half
- Place tomatoes in a shallow baking dish or casserole
- Top with sliced shallots, garlic, and herbs
- Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- Toss it all together to combine and season with salt and pepper
- Place tomatoes in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until tomatoes to start to break down, the skins start to start wrinkle, and the cut edges to begin to show a bit of char.
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