We are very excited in my house about the community garden plot we are cultivating this spring and summer, in hopes of finally getting our fill of tomatoes. We were there this week, just two miles from our house, adding manure and lime to the soil, preparing it for tomato plants, several zucchini plants, lettuces, and herbs we will plant, perhaps this weekend (if the weather cooperates). For several years, we have tried to grow tomatoes in large containers on our back deck, with limited success, due mostly to the fact that we don’t get nearly enough sun in our backyard. So this year, we jumped at the chance to share a garden plot and fill a 20 X 20 foot space with all the edible things we wanted to grow. When I was a kid, my grandfather’s main past time during the summer months was tending to the large garden in the back of our house. He spent hours out there each day, weeding, pruning, picking the vegetables and fruits that he grew, and sometimes, just sitting and watching it all grow. To this day, just the smell of tomato plants makes me nostalgic. My friend Bret grew three different varieties of tomatoes from seed, and was kind enough to give us forty plants! Of course it will be a long time until they are ready, so for now, we will have to suffice with the store bought variety, brought in from places where it is warm enough to grow tomatoes year round. They are not spectacular, but with the right treatment, they can be made into a pretty good sauce, and it is a quick and easy meal after a long day of yard work. The following is really more of an idea than a recipe, so substitute herbs or cheeses as you see fit.
Just until Summer Tomatoes and Pasta:
Toss tomatoes, garlic, and salt together in a large oven proof skillet (I like my cast iron skillet). Roast tomatoes in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until they get bubbly and a little golden brown. Toss in the basil, add chicken stock and put back in the oven for about 10 minutes. Stir and break up the tomatoes a little. In the meantime, cook the pasta according to package directions, and drain. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, and add the roasted tomato mixture. Add the crumbled goat cheese, which will dissolve with the liquid and turn the tomatoes into a creamy and tangy sauce. Add more fresh basil, torn into small pieces, and a little grated Romano cheese on top.
Variation: I often make this with crushed red pepper, to make it a little spicy, and substitute fresh mozzarella for the goat cheese.