Sunday, June 15, 2014

Marinated Tomatoes

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One of my favorite things about food is all the food memories that are tied to it.  The way eating your grandmother's pie always reminds you of the holidays or how a picture of smores remind you of your favorite camping trip.  Most people have loads of memories that are evoked from food.  A smell can tell a story and a taste can bring back an old emotion, food and food memories are a powerful thing.

When I was around 17 years old, I went to a family reunion for my mother's side in New York.  One day I came into the kitchen to find my dad, aunts, great aunts and consins all standing around a counter talking in loud excited voices.  Moving closer I heard them exclaiming how great whatever they were eating was.

So, I moved closer still and saw it was some sort of tomato dish.  I wasn't a fan of tomatoes at the time, so I back away.  I listened for a while as my dad went on and on about how tasty something so simple was.  My dad tried pulling me into the conversation and the food.  "Just try it" he said.  "This is what it's all about Brittany, just one bite."

Who was I to say no, I've spoken often on here about how picky I used to be and fruit, pasta and bread were starting to get redundant.  So I gave this tomato dish a whirl.  It just be true that sometimes fathers know best.  This crazy dish I was so afraid of was something as simple as sliced tomatoes, basil leaves and gorgonzola cheese for an appetizer.  Sprinkle that with a little salt and black pepper and you have bite-sized perfection (or two bite perfection for big tomato slices).

That day changed the way I thought about tomatoes though, and most importantly the way that I thought about food.  The ingredients were so simple, but they are pairings that have gone together for years.  It's something I will never forget because it taught me that simplicity must never be over rated.  Sometimes letting a few ingredients stand alone together is the best thing you can do for a dish.

Since then I have grown to use tomatoes a lot more in my cooking.  This recipe came to be because my dad's birthday was coming up and I wanted something to honor the memory that meant so much to me.  It's a mix of that fateful dish in New York, a tomato recipe my mom sent me and my love of balsamic vinegar.

~~~Seems just right to post this recipe on Father's Day given my dad's profound influence.  So to him I say I love you and wish you the happiest of day.  Thanks for always getting me excited about food, even when my food groups consisted of fruit and carbs and your a meat guy.  And happy Father's Day to all the other dad's out there!

Enjoy :)

Marinated Tomatoes
Makes about 2 cups (24 appetizer pieces)
15-20 basil leaves, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
Blue cheese crumbles or feta cheese *
1 baguette, sliced thinly on a bias, grilled or toasted

1.  In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the tomato wedges, cheese and baguette.
2.  Add in the tomatoes wedges and toss to coat.
3.  Marinate at room temperature for 2-4 hours, stirring the mixture every 45 minutes to an hour.  Serve with grilled baguette slices.

*You can use your preference for the cheese, I made this for my dad and his favorite is blue cheese, but I have also used feta as well (which is the cheese that is pictured).