After summer’s glorious return last weekend, it now feels that we have settled into an autumnal groove. There’s a slight chill in the air and the leaves are beginning to gently fall to the ground. You know what that means. It’s time for slow cooking in the oven. This comforting side dish is just the ticket if your plan is to putter around the house on a lazy weekend afternoon. It makes an excellent accompaniment to steak, lamb, or pork. And it fills the house with the most amazing aromas: smoky bacon, caramelizing balsamic, and pungent garlic. Your house will smell so inviting with this dish in the oven, you’ll find every excuse to stay put.
There are loads of plum tomatoes around this time of year. Traditionally they are used to make homemade tomato sauce that can be jarred for the coming winter months. But I like to set aside a box of these hearty tomatoes for slow roasting. They are amazing on egg sandwiches in the morning or tossed into salads (they hold up especially well next to peppery baby arugula). And they are especially delicious roasted with other hearty fall vegetables, including mushrooms or cipollini onions. I served this dish with pork tenderloin that I marinated in lemon juice, seeded mustard, garlic, and thyme and then grilled on my stove top grill. I rounded out the meal with a lightly dressed green salad and a glass of red wine to wash it all down. Not too shabby for a Thursday night in.
1 pound small cipollini onions, hairy root end trimmed but still intact
1 pound plum tomatoes (4 to 6), cored and quartered lengthwise
3 strips bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- To peel the onions, place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to the boil. Add the onions and boil for 3 minutes. Drain, and when cool enough to handle, pinch the stem end of the onion and pull the skins off. If your onions are big or uneven in size, take a layer of skin off to make them smaller and more consistent.
- In a baking dish, combine the peeled onions, tomatoes, bacon, garlic, vinegar, oil, and thyme leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and add 1/4 cup water to deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up any solid bits from the base. Return to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes, until the onions are tender and glazed.
Nutritional analysis based on 4 servings (does not include salt and pepper to taste):
Calories 306, Fat 23g, Sodium 191mg, Carbohydrate 20g, Fiber 3g, Sugar 12, Protein 5g