I love tomatoes. Growing up we had a small tomato patch in our backyard garden, full of lovely little green leafy plants growing ever more entangled with the metal cages that propped them up. I remember picking plump little red tomatoes with my father and taking them inside to cut open and eat sprinkled with a bit of salt. A fantastic afternoon treat.
In college we tried to grow tomatoes in our massive, lush vegetable garden, but they were always the one plant that didn't take to the dark, moist Washington soil. Our sunflowers, lettuce greens, squashes, zucchinis, green beans, and herbs grew like wild but our tomato plants produced only meager crops by comparison.
In Manhattan I've had surprisingly better luck, and my roof and fire escape garden tomatoes frequently outgrow their pots and have to be tied and tethered and propped up left and right due to their size. Keeping them thoroughly watered in the unwavering sunshine of a Manhattan July is the main difficulty, and many midsummer days S and I would alternate hauling multiple gallons of water to the roof both before and after work to keep all the plants hydrated.
I typically focus my tomato growing efforts on the smaller varieties, grape, cherry, and pear We've had great luck with the yellow pear heirloom variety. I love the way little tomatoes grow in bunches and develop quickly. Plus they trick my brain into believing I'm an urban farmer. Picking one or two ripe beefsteak tomatoes takes about 5 seconds, but searching through all the bunches and branches on four or five cherry tomato plants and picking a whole pints worth of tiny tomatoes takes at least a few minutes and somehow seems to produce a greater reward. Look at all these tomatoes! I think, admiring the full bowl, we grew these on a roof in Chinatown!
I would call tomatoes my favorite vegetable but S always reminds me they're a fruit. I like them prepared pretty much every way but ketchup (you won't be finding many recipes calling for ketchup around here). Marinara, tomato salad, bloody marys, ragu, salsa, sun dried, eaten plain, roasted- I like all forms of tomato. S, however, does not like hot tomatoes. He'll eat a tomato sauce or ragu, of course, being Italian, but he doesn't like roasted tomatoes. Which is a shame, as they're awesome.
So this weekend when I found myself with a day on my own I decided I would make something with roasted tomatoes. The only problem is that I regularly have great recipe ideas that involve roasted tomatoes which I resist making since S doesn't like them, and I just didn't know where to start. Roasted tomato pasta salad? Roasted tomato tart? I decided to go with this flatbread because I recently made this white bean-olive hummus for a different flatbread and it was so good I had to share it. I love white bean hummus as an alternative to chickpeas. You can use all white bean or go 50/50 with chickpeas if you prefer. The flavor is similar, but the white beans make a nice change from the usual chick peas. They're also fat free, though of course the tahini and olive oil are not.These flatbreads make a lovely lunch or dinner. Or serve pre-sliced as party finger food!
Roasted Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Flatbreads with Goat Cheese and Olives
Makes 3 personal size flatbreads with some leftover hummus.
1/2lb summer squash
9oz cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
4oz greek olives (green and/or purple)
1 tbsp olive oil
3oz goat cheese
3 flatbreads (such as pocketless pita, or na'an)
salt and pepper
4oz pitted greek olives
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 can white beans (I used Great Northerns)
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Slice zucchini and summer squash into rounds about 1/6" thick. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and arrange on a greased jelly roll pan in a single layer.
Similarly, cut tomatoes in half, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, and arrange, cut side up, in a single layer on separate jelly roll pan.
Sprinkle both the squashes and the tomato with salt and pepper, and place in oven next to each other (if one pan needs to go in the back, make it the tomatoes, they cook longer). Roast for 8 minutes, then flip all the squash slices. Roast another 8-10 minutes, until the undersides of the squash slices are beginning to brown. Remove squash pan and set aside.
Check the tomatoes, if they're not browning on top, turn the oven up to broil and position the pan under the broiler. Let tomatoes broil about 3-4 minutes, or until beginning to blacken on top. Remove from heat and set aside.
While vegetables roast, place all the hummus ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz for 2-4 minutes, until hummus is pretty smooth. Set aside.
Chop the remaining 4 oz pitted greek olives.m Set aside.
After the vegetables are out of the oven, adjust temperature to 450 and place the flat breads directly on oven rack. Toast for 2-3 minutes, until the bottoms begin to crisp up. Remove from oven.
Dollop hummus onto each flatbread and spread out with a spoon, top with zucchini, squash, and roasted tomatoes, sprinkle with chopped olives and crumbled goat cheese. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter and enjoy!