I’ve long been convinced that the oven is the most important piece of equipment when it comes to making vegetables taste delicious. Whether you’re roasting them on a high heat or drying them out on a low heat, the aim is to reduce the water content and intensify the flavour.
I often look for this meaty taste in vegetarian cuisine – it’s generally known as umami and is one of the five basic tastes alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Roasted aubergines and braised or roasted tomatoes have this quality, which is why you’ll always find a jar of baba ganoush (aubergine paste) and roasted tomatoes in my fridge.
This is an integral part of good vegetarian cuisine as just one or two spoonfuls will immediately add greater depth of flavour. Roasted tomatoes are quick and easy to make. Simply take 500 g of cherry tomatoes and mix them with 4 garlic cloves (cut into slices), 4 tbsp thyme leaves, 4 tbsp chestnut honey, 2 tbsp pepper (crushed, not ground!) and 6 tbsp olive oil. Roast for 30 mins. at 190 °C (hot air), then turn off the oven and leave the tomatoes to dry a little overnight for a more intense flavour.
The following morning you will have a wonderful pasta sauce. Alternatively, you can enjoy these slightly sharp yet sweet tomatoes with an omelette, a salad with chickpeas, or some crumbled goat’s cheese and fresh mint on a slice of toasted sourdough bread.