It's no secret to anyone who knows me very well that one of my favorite restaurants in the Seattle area is a small Italian one in the Montlake neighborhood called Café Lago. I've been there for my birthday, we like to go by there for a late snack after a show downtown, and I would eat there every week if my budget and traffic pattern allowed it. In fact, maybe I should just look for a home in that neighborhood! They are gorgeous, unique, and quaint, after all—just what I like. I'm sure that would affect my budget, too, though!
I haven't been to Café Lago recently (so sad!), but when I was grocery shopping last Sunday afternoon, getting all the lunch foods in the house before the school week, I saw a round of Bucheron and immediately paired it with roasted tomatoes in my head. I salivated a bit, picked it up, and put it in my cart with every good intention of making one of my favorite appetizers that I first tasted at Café Lago. I don't have a recipe, but just had a go of it off the top of my head. It turned out very well! (I've actually told you about it before, but today I do so with much more authority! Read on.)
When I was standing in line to pay for my groceries, I saw the most recent bon appétit issue. I've never bought that magazine although I keep finding recipes from it that I keep trying and liking! One of the captions was "the best Italian food in America" and I thought to myself, "I love Italian food, and I can MAKE some of the best in America!" so let's see if I made the magazine! Just kidding. Not about making food, but about making the magazine. J I was only a little sad till a couple of days later, I opened the magazine and saw that they were listing neighborhood restaurants that were the best in America AND Café Lago was featured! A whole article! I was so excited!! I read it like I was reading about an old friend. The writer did a great job of capturing the coziness of the restaurant and creating desire to go again—I can't stop thinking about it! (I also enjoyed perusing the author's, Molly Wizenberg, blog, Orangette.)
So my favorite appetizer is Pomodori al Forno! And it has been such ever since I first tasted it at Café Lago. It's an amazing combination of Bucheron cheese, surrounded by slow-roasted tomatoes, and eaten on toasted baguette slices. It's pure heaven. You'll never believe it if I told you that the recipe was printed right in that magazine! Yay!! Doing the happy dance! I know what I'm going to be eating!! I've linked to it, but will also add it here in case bon appétit ever changes its website. That way, I'll always have it here!!
Pomodori Al Forno
(Adapted from Café Lago's recipe and copied from bon appétit magazine, September 08)
- 1 c. olive oil, divided
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded
- 1 ½ t. dried oregano
- ¾ t. sugar
- ½ t. salt
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 t. minced fresh Italian parsley
- Aged goat cheese (such as Bucheron)
- 1 baguette, thinly sliced crosswise, toasted
Preheat oven to 250˚F. Pour ½ cup of oil into 13x9x2-inch ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes in dish, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining ½ c. oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar, and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using tongs, turn tomatoes over. Bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over again. Bake until deep red and very tender, transferring tomatoes to plate wthen soft (time will vary, depending on ripeness of tomatoes), about 15-45 minutes longer.
Layer tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkling garlic and parsley over each layer; reserve oil in baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with reserved oil, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
DO AHEAD: Cover; chill up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve with aged goat cheese and toasted baguette slices. Download Pomodori Al Forno
And some photos, of course!
The recipe calls for two pounds of tomatoes, but I think I actually had a bit more than that.
Here's the tomatoes all halved and seeded. . . I used a melon baller to get the seeds out:
After they have baked on one side, you turn them over and bake them again, then turn them AGAIN, and bake them yet some more!
After you've baked them (forever!), you layer them in a bowl with garlic and parsley, then arrange them nicely on a plate with the toasted baguette and cheese. . .
You don't HAVE to arrange them nicely, you can just spread some cheese on the toast, top it with a tomato and taste . . . Heaven. Yes, I'm sure that's what you're tasting.
My next venture will be to try these in lasagna! Don't you think that will taste amazing?!
Have I shared my latest quote find with you? It's from an Italian so I find it fitting for this post: "One of the nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." –Luciano Pavarotti