Monday, October 1, 2007

It Just Growed

This is what you call a "Topsy Roast Dinner" because, as Topsy, the irrepressible slave child in Uncle Tom's Cabin famously said, "I s'pect I just growed. Don't think nobody never made me." And if ever a meal just growed, it was this one.

As things often do in this day and age, it started with Google. I was doing all the research I could to be sure I handled the baby tomato plants properly. Somewhere in the middle of all that information, a gardener on a forum list tossed in a recipe for a salad with Roasted Tomato Dressing. She said the dressing was good drizzled on crab cakes as well as over salad mixin's. The thing was, it called for a pint of cherry tomatoes -- and I still had the pint of cherry tomatoes youngest dotter Patti had brought me the other day.

Well, okay, there might have been a little less than a full pint because individual 'maters seemed compelled to jump into my mouth whenever I came within range. I squinted my eyeballs and determined there was still enough left to do the recipe. More or less. And I don't see why you couldn't use any old 'mater you have around, although I'd chop up the bigger ones if I went that route. Anyhoo, what you do is this:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fairyheight. In a roasting pan (or pie plate or whatever works), place a single layer of cherry tomatoes (1 pint, more or less.) Either smash a clove of garlic and scatter it in with the 'maters or sprinkle in a heaping teaspoon of the minced garlic you have in that jar in the refrigerator. Drizzle some olive oil over the 'maters, sprinkle with kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Roll 'em around a bit with a fork or spoon, until the tomatoes are lightly coated with the oil and garlic bits and seasoning. Put in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes. The skins will pop and the juices will mix most delightfully with the olive oil and garlic bits.

In the meantime, in a measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon wine vinegar. (I used balsamic vinegar because that's what I have.) Add a bare teaspoon sugar. I didn't think until it was too late but I'll bet brown sugar would have been better than the white. Your call. I was also supposed to put in a handful of chopped parsley but I didn't have even a smidgen of that. I tossed in a couple of snipped up basil leaves, though, and that seemed to work well.

When the 'maters have roasted nicely, take them out of the oven and using a spatula so you get every wonderful drip and morsel, scrape everything into your blender. Add the oil and vinegar mixture. Pulse the whole shebang until it's smooth and well-blended. It will be slightly thick and a gorgeous dark terracotta color. Taste test it in case you might want to add anything. I added some cayenne pepper and a few more grinds of sea salt. Anything over 3 dainty tastes is indulgence, not testing. Slap yourself and put the dressing away in the refrigerator to cool.

Okay. I had the dressing. But I didn't have the salad stuff (which comprised thin slices of French bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven until crisp, then smeared with soft goat cheese and draped with a generous helping of watercress, over which you drizzle the dressing) and I didn't have any crab cakes. Or fish sticks. Or even corn dogs, for cryin' out loud. But I did have chicken breasts. I nearly always have chicken breasts.

Took one out of the freezer and thawed it in the microwave. Pounded it flat. Layed in some feta cheese and minced onion and rolled it up nice and neat. Put it in the middle of a baking dish. Took the package of bacon strips out of the freezer and cut three or four very narrow strips off one end of the layers. Spread those bits over the chicken breast. Took some mixed frozen veggies (green beans, corn and carrots) and poured them into the baking dish on one side of the chicken. Then took some frozen tater tots and poured them in on the other side. Put a lid on the baking dish and slipped it in the oven (still at 350 degrees) for 45 minutes. When the time was up, I removed the lid and spooned some of the Roasted Tomato Dressing over the chicken. Let it cook for another 15 minutes with the lid off. The fragrance almost drove me mad.

And that's how my dinner "just growed." There had to be something to put under that dressing, you see. It's sort of like reverse engineering.

I was going to get two meals out of it. Really I was. Couldn't stop myself, though. I had to let the first helping settle a bit before I waded into the second -- and final -- portion but the whole thing is nothing now but a most pleasant memory. And that Roasted Tomato Dressing is seventeen kinds of fantastic! There's still some left in a little jelly jar in the refrigerator. Wonder what kind of a Topsy meal will go with it next?


Wendy, NC said...

Dee, you do know how to drive a woman crazy. It's just a good thing you et it all up because otherwise I'd be there having it for breakfast.

bonnie said...

6 a.m. and I haven't even had breakfast yet and first thing I see is a delicious looking plate on Dee's table! I'm tellin ya you need to take over that diner next door!

btw did the school next door ever take off?

Anonymous said...

I suppose store bought tomatoes would have to do, but it does look delish! I'm thinking meatloaf, or even a pot roast under it would do too.

All sorts of possibilities, like just spreading it on a nice slab of French bread and sprinkling it with cheese. Under the broiler for a few seconds and it's almost pizza.

I am copying and printing and adding to my large stash of Dee recipes.


Mage And George said...

Oh Yes, meat loaf. Now, see what you have started? You morph from a job oriented blog to books then food, and we all enthusiastically try everything you suggest and turn into blimps. It's all your fault. LOL

Dee said...

Darn, Wendi. I wish you *were* coming for brekkie -- I'd have made more.

Bonnie, the diner is too much work and the hours are impossible. Doing it this way is a lot more fun. (Yes, the school is doing fine. I can hear the kidlets playing outside as we speak.)

Ava, what great ideas you brainstormed, there! I think I'll go for the broiler thingie for lunch today.

Mage, I have total faith that your exercise will keep you unblimped. Besides, I make it a point to refuse admittance to calories in any recipes I lay on y'all. (smile)

Kate said...

OHMIGAWD! This just sounds to die for, & you betcha, Red Rider, I'll be making it soon!