Roasted-tomato topping for pasta, bread or polenta: 39 cents/serving

Apologies for the late post, but I have officially entered into the late stage of pregnancy where standing on my feet, at the counter, for long periods of time has gotten almost unbearably difficult. I’m still cooking, mind you, but it’s more in the vein of throwing things together based on the garden and pantry and hoping they cohere enough to be edible before I have to go sit down. The resulting “recipes,” if I remember them at all, are rarely innovative or tested enough to warrant inclusion on the blog. The last thing I made that would be worth your time and trouble to re-create was this roasted tomato dish, utilizing what appears to have been the last big tomato harvest of the summer. It’s nothing fancy, just a big ol’ pile of heirlooms and a few handfuls of sun golds (or whatever tomatoes you have on hand), roasted in olive oil to concentrate their sweetness and topped with basil-garlic bread crumbs. I served it over pasta, but it would also be great over polenta or on bread as a sort of bruschetta.

First off, before we get started, CAN YOU BLAME ME? This is not comfortable, folks. Me cooking right now is akin to releasing an injured and developmentally delayed water buffalo into our tiny shoebox of a kitchen. But I’m still doing it, and we’re still living on $35 a week. Do I feel I deserve a medal? Yes. Yes, I do.

Anyhow, as below, the recipe makes about 4 servings as an entree. Be forewarned this is not a weeknight meal—the tomatoes take a couple of hours to roast. (Adapted from Faith Durand’s Not Your Mother’s Casseroles.)

• Enough cut-up ripe tomatoes to cover the bottom of a 13×9 Pyrex dish (garden): $0
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped: 2 cents
• 1/4 cup olive oil: 24 cents
For the topping:
• 1 cup fresh bread crumbs: $0 (provided you’re using bread you’d otherwise be tossing)
• 1/4 cup olive oil: 24 cents
• Large handful (about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup) basil leaves (garden): $0
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped: 2 cents
• 12 oz. pasta (or polenta, or a loaf of bread): $1
• Salt and pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $1.54/4 = 39 cents/serving

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Spread the tomatoes in the bottom of the Pyrex dish. Sprinkle on the garlic and salt and pepper to taste, pour the olive oil evenly over the top. Stir to distribute more evenly, if desired.

Roast uncovered for about 2 hours. If you’re not using paste tomatoes, the tomatoes will have released quite a bit of liquid. Don’t be alarmed—the bread crumbs will absorb it and crisp right back up.

Meanwhile, combine the bread crumbs, basil, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until combined. If your bread wasn’t salty to begin with, you might want to add a little to taste.

When the tomatoes are done, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and roast at 450 F for another 20-30 minutes, until top has browned.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente and drain. Mix in the tomato mixture. (Or serve over polenta or toasted bread. See here for instructions on how to make polenta from cornmeal.)

12 responses to “Roasted-tomato topping for pasta, bread or polenta: 39 cents/serving

  1. You are a beautiful pregnant lady and yes you deserve a medal and, in my world, “take out”!

  2. Kudos to you! Reminds me that I shouldn’t complain about cooking in ab RV… When’s your food budget going to be adapted for the extra mouth to feed?
    Love this recipe, something to try! Have you ever made your own sun (i.e. oven) dried tomatoes? Very good and much better than store-bought.

    • Thanks!!

      The food budget probably won’t have to be adapted until he’s at least a few years old, I hope. And even then he’ll just eat what we eat.

      I did once try sun-dried tomatoes, but it seemed like it was going to take longer than a day, so I gave up. How long are they supposed to take?

      • I like them ‘half-dried’. That took about 5 hours at 200F. Inportant: the oven has to be ajar. I put a wooden spoon in the gap to keep it open. Otherwise the moisture could not get away.
        I wouldn’t want to interfere, but a child will need to get enough protein (preferably meat) to grow properly. But you have a point, he will probably be 4 before that will make a noticeable difference on the budget. I very much agree that he should eat what you are eating! I know too many kids who don’t eat vegetables. Ridiculous if you ask me. Your kid will be blessed with a mom who can cook!

      • Ah, that makes sense why it didn’t work. I’ll have to try it again…someday.

      • Sounds like you have no tomatoes left anyway

  3. P.S. Good to be in (almost) the same time zone for a change 🙂

  4. On kids eating what parents eat: My nephews visited this summer, and I served up roasted peppers and other nicely roasted veggies to them and my two elementary age boys. One of my nephews said, “They like peppers!?” And my wife responded, “No, but they eat them!”

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