I spent this morning at Borough Market. I love going on Thursdays - not all the stalls are open, but the Saturday crowds are nowhere to be seen. I went with a mission to procure some lovage, a new herb I fell in love with earlier this week. I was hoping to recreate a carrot + lovage soup that I had at Lumen Cafe, a new social enterprise committed to serving local, seasonal and sustainable food. Unfortunately, my trusty herb man did not have any lovage today! Fingers crossed he has some next week so I can share you the wonders of lovage.
I was a little miffed I didn't get any love-age so I was tempted to grab some lunch and go. At first, I ignored the tomatoes because its just a little to early for them to be any good. But as I walked by, their scent lured me in. If I can smell a tomato from a few feet away, I know that something good must be going on.
I got a bunch of tomatoes and roasted them in a hot oven (400F) for about 30 minutes till their skins split and their juices started oozing and browning. Then I broiled them for a few minutes to gently char their skin. Before they went in the oven I food-processed parsley, basil, squirt of lemon, salt + pepper, a few cloves of raw garlic, and lots of olive oil to make a loose pesto. Gently toss the tomatoes in this runny pesto before putting in a baking dish. This is a trick I learned from a fellow chef friend of mine and it really gives great flavor to roasted tomatoes. You could eat them like this as a side, but while I had the oven on I decided to roast this fresh garlic as well.
For the fresh garlic - cut the tops off, douse in olive oil and wrap in foil. They were in the oven the entire time the tomatoes were, so about 40 minutes. What comes out is amazing - the garlic turns into a smooth, mellow, paste that can be scooped out and spread on crusty bread, or literally just sprinkled with a touch of salt and eaten plain.
I roasted multiple bulbs. You can literally squeeze all the insides out of the garlic once they cool enough to handle. Some went in the tomato soup and some went on a lovely pugliese bread that I toasted under the broiler after liberally spreading olive oil and sprinkling sea salt over. The tomato soup was simple...just heat up the roasted tomatoes in a soup pan with the roasted fresh garlic and some chicken (or veg) stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and make smooth with an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a bit of raw fresh garlic (it is mild enough to eat raw), parsley, and good olive oil. Serve with roasted fresh garlic bread and little vino. I don't have rules for this goes with red or white - I just drink what tastes good.
Summer is a comin'.