A gorgeous rainbow of baby heirloom tomatoes.
We over at the Urban Farm are rolling in them. Drowning in them, just about. No, really. I don’t think you fully understand me. I am telling you we are dealing with an onslaught, a true onslaught of tiny tomatoes, marching so steadily and relentlessly towards ripeness that it is difficult to keep pace with them. It is a problem.
It is, in fact, my very favorite problem of the month.
I, like the trooper I am, have been doing my part to keep them in check: eating them raw as-is, or halved and sprinkled with salt, or mixed in with salads, or sauteed with garlic and eggplant… but really, more than anything I’ve been wanting to roast them.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that it is the end of September as I write this and fall is technically supposed to have arrived, the last week has felt more like late August than anything: unbelievably damp and hot and sticky as all get-out. Turning on the oven — be it to bake the gorgeous toddler-sized Blue Hubbard I picked up last weekend, or to knock out another pan of homemade fruit-sweetened granola, or to roast a rainbow of perfect little tomatoes — has been out of the question.
Today I was outside with a friend of mine, manning our little farmstand, when an ominous darkness appeared. At first it simply loomed threateningly in the distance, but within minutes it suddenly swept over us, ushering in a cold wind. Then the skies broke open. Everyone who hadn’t already thought to take cover (including me and my friend, of course) were immediately and completely drenched.
(Of course, just as soon as we’d managed to break down the farmstand and bring everything inside — and to get thoroughly soaked, right down to the shoe-squishing stage of drenchment — the rain stopped. You’ve heard this one before, right?)
Anyway, an hour later when I left to drag my sodden self home, I paused to notice that the sky — though still moody — had brightened considerably, and the air was deliciously cool and refreshing. Yes, there was just (I noted gleefully) the faintest promise of an approaching chill. Perfect weather for early evening jogs, hot tea and toast for breakfast, cozying up in sweaters, and of course… turning on the oven!
I ran back, stuffed my bag until it was just about ready to burst with tomatoes and a few carefully pinched leaves of basil, and turned to head for home, happily mulling over just what I was going to DO with all of these juicy roasted gems… other than eat them, immediately as soon as they were cool enough to be popped into my waiting mouth.
Just then — laden as I was with my bag of little heirloom tomatoes splitting at their seams, hair still pasted to my face and sneakers still a-squish — something breathtaking happened. The late-afternoon sun split through the hazy wisps left behind by the last of the dark clouds, making the cobbled streets glitter and the glass buildings gleam. In the background, the various greens of the farm beyond shone and seemed to dance as they shook off the afternoon’s sudden onslaught of droplets. For just a moment the whole city seemed to pause, people on the street lifting their heads in awe to stare at the shining beauty that suddenly surrounded them. It was one of those magical moments, made even more exhilarating by having just gotten caught in the earlier downpour, (as only getting caught in a sudden downpour can). Then, suddenly and forcefully, it hit me:
I love my life.
Roasted Tomato Pasta with Chickpeas, Garlic and Basil
- 1/2 cup of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, soaked overnight (at least 12 hours)
- a quart (or two, or three) of small heirloom tomatoes (or larger ones cut into quarters)
- 3 cloves of garlic – 1 peeled, 2 not
- a small handful of basil leaves (6 -8 large leaves)
- a scant 1/4 cup oil + more for roasting
- 1/2 lb of Flour City Pasta “All Mixed Up” or “Market” blend
Note: I absolutely adore Flour City Pasta. Their whole-wheat pastas have a wonderful texture (not dry or grainy like so many other whole-wheat pastas) and come in a beautiful array of colors and flavors, such as Lime Rigatoni, Carrot Thyme Radiatore and Cayenne Fusilli (to name a few). They are also amazingly high in protein for super-easy one-bowl meals. Definitely check them out, either online or at the Park Slope 5th Avenue market on Sundays.
Preheat oven to 325. Drizzle a little olive oil over your tomatoes and two of your cloves of garlic (still in their skins), rub them around until they’re all coated, and roast in a pan (with edges) about 50 minutes or until tomatoes are fragrant and wrinkly and garlic is soft.
While your tomatoes are roasting, set up two pots of water; one to boil your garbanzo beans 30-40 minutes or until they’ve reached a desired level of tenderness, and the other to boil your pasta when the garbanzo beans are just finished cooking.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the two cloves of roasted garlic from their skins. In a little chopper/small food processor, puree both roasted and raw garlic, olive oil, and half of your basil leaves until there are no big chunks left.
As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and quickly toss with about half of the garlic oil. Toss in the garbanzo beans and some or all of the tomatoes (depending on how many you roasted), and combine gently. Use more garlic oil if you need it, or set it aside for some other purpose.
Serves 2 topped with the remaining basil leaves, slivered (not pictured here as I ran out) and perhaps a bit of fresh pepper.