When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tomato Bonanza! (Roasted tomatoes and a delicious gluten-free, vegan pasta dish)

Way back in June I planted two teeny little grape tomato plants, one that would bear red fruit and one that would bear yellow, in one of our new vegetable gardens.  I carefully placed a little wire tomato cage around each plant to offer it support as it grew, and then waited, eagerly anticipating eating the sweet, juicy tomatoes in salads during late summer.  Fast forward a few months, and those teeny little grape tomato plants have turned into an enormous tomato plant jungle that threatens to swallow me whole every time I go out to gather the ripe red and yellow fruits.  Matt and I had to add an additional eight bamboo stakes to the garden mid-summer just to hold up the green branches that stretch six feet up and eight feet out, and despite having already given away baskets full of tomatoes to friends, we still have way more tomatoes than we know what to do with sitting on our kitchen counter.  (And there are still hundreds more ripening in the garden....)

While reading through Chatelaine magazine recently, I found instructions for roasting tomatoes and realized that would be a great way to use some of our crop.  Roasting tomatoes is simple and greatly intensifies the fruits' already delicious flavour, and once they are roasted, the tomatoes can be stored in jars in the freezer and used throughout the winter in pasta dishes or salads, or on pizzas and sandwiches.  I roasted two full pans of our tomatoes this morning, and then used some of them (along with some white kidney beans and some of our garden kale) to create a hearty pasta dish for lunch.  Mmmm, mmm, good!

How to Roast Tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Slice grape or cherry tomatoes in half (quarter larger tomatoes) and place them cut side up in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Roast them for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. 
Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, White Kidney Beans, and Kale (gluten-free, vegan)
1 454g package of penne (I used gluten-free brown rice pasta)
1 bunch of kale (washed, trimmed, and chopped)
1 540ml can of white kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
approximately 2 cups roasted grape or cherry tomatoes
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
zest of one lemon

Cook pasta according to package directions, then strain.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add kale to hot pan, stirring occasionally, and cook until kale is almost wilted.  Stir in beans and garlic and cook for a minute or two, or until the beans are warm.  Add in cooked pasta, roasted tomatoes, and lemon zest and toss gently until all ingredients are combined.  Serve and enjoy! 
We loved this simple pasta dish -- it was full of flavour and very satisfying, and it didn't take long to make at all!  I'm really glad to have yet another way to enjoy that unbelievably huge tomato crop of ours that doesn't seem to have an end in sight....
Thanks very much for your votes so far in the Top 25 Canadian Moms blogger contest!  You can continue to vote once per day here, every day until September 25th.  I'd love to claim one of the top 25 spots again this year, but I'll need your continued support to get there.  :)

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