English cookbook author Nigel Slater reminds me a bit of Marcella Hazan. Like Hazan, Slater is adamant that he’s a cook, not a chef, and he’s a champion of simple, straightforward home cooking. The American edition of his book, Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch (Ten Speed Press) came out recently, and it deserves a place in your cookbook collection. His signature unfussy approach lets the flavor of seasonal produce really shine. Roasting summer-fresh tomatoes heightens their sweetness and deepens their flavor. Slater recommends serving these as a side dish with fresh mozzarella or basmati rice. They’re equally delightful served over sliced baguette as an appetizer or light lunch.
- 1 pound tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 chiffonade fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut tomatoes in half. Place them, cut side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold them a single snug layer. Drizzle oil over tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the cheese is slightly crisp. Garnish with basil.
(Adapted from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater.)