Summer Squash and Roasted Tomato Timbales

May 12th, 2008  |  Published in All, Basil, Cheese, Delectable Dairy, Honorable Herbs, Most Popular, Summer Squash & Zucchini, Tomatoes, Veritable Vegetables, Weekend Projects  |  7 Comments

Summer Squash and Roasted Tomato Timbale

Summer Squash and Roasted Tomato Timbales
makes 2 timbales

– 3 fist sized round green summer squash, or an equal amount of small zucchini or other summer squash
– olive oil
– between 4 and 12 roasted tomato halves, depending on size (see recipe below)
– 8 or so large basil leaves
– 3 – 4 T. farmer’s cheese or good quality ricotta

Preheat broiler. Remove the tops and very bottoms of summer squash and slice into thin rounds, about 1/8 inch thick or less (if using long instead of round squash, slice vertically into long strips). Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place slices on baking sheet, and brush the tops with a small amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for about 5-6 minutes, until top is beginning to turn golden brown. Flip slices over, and broil and additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool somewhat. Turn oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly brush 2 -1 cup ramekins with a small amount of olive oil. Place one squash piece flat in the bottom of each ramekin. Using about half of the roasted squash, line the sides of the ramekins with overlapping slices. Place a quarter of the tomatoes in the bottom of each ramekin. Pat a quarter of the cheese into each ramekin on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top cheese with two basil leaves, pressing gently. Place one or two roasted squash slices on top of the basil. Repeat layering: tomatoes, cheese, salt & pepper, and basil. Top with remaining squash slices, and fold over any edges so you have a little roasted-squash-sealed package. Place ramekins on baking sheet, and heat in oven for about 8-10 minutes, until warmed throughout. Remove ramekins from oven, gently loosen edges with a small spatula or knife, turn timbales out onto a plate and remove ramekins (either by placing a plate on top of ramekin and flipping over, or by deftly flipping hot ramekins face down onto a plate). Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatoes
– Small tomatoes (1.5 inches is ideal, though you can use larger or smaller tomatoes)
– Salt & Pepper
– Thyme (fresh or dried)

Preheat oven to very low, about 225 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half vertically (or if using larger tomatoes, quarter them) and place cut side up on a rimmed baking pan. Sprinkle each tomato half with salt, pepper, and a bit of thyme. Roast for about 1.5 hour, or until tomatoes are very soft. Flip tomatoes so the cut side is down. Roast an additional hour and a half, or longer until tomatoes have reduced in volume by about half. Use tomatoes immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week (though mine never last that long!). If the tomatoes are on the smaller side, you will need to reduce roasting time to about 1 hour per side.

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Last weekend I saw the first tomatoes of the season at the Palo Alto farmer’s market! Greenhouse-raised? perhaps. Unusual variety? not so much. Super delicious after over six months without eating a fresh tomato? absolutely.

Not only did I find the first tomatoes of the season, but I found some lovely green summer squash, which I haven’t seen in even longer than six months! These two exciting farmer’s market finds, plus some farmers cheese I had at home and fresh basil from my trusty indoor basil plant, combined wonderfully to make a gastronomically and aesthetically pleasing vegetable dish that is happily at home on the center of the plate.

I had never heard of the word timbale before I came across Patricia Wells great cookbook, ‘Vegetable Harvest: Vegetables at the Center of the Plate’. Similar to ‘tagine’ and ‘casserole’, the word timbale refers to both the cookware, as well as the food cooked in the cookware. In the book she has a delicious-looking recipe for roasted eggplant and tomato timbales, which I based this dish upon.

Not too difficult, and not too fussy, these vegetable timbales have a clean, fresh flavor and an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. I can imagine a late summer version of the dish using entirely raw ingredients and served slightly chilled (tomatoes, dill, cucumbers, and feta; chioggia beets, mint, ricotta, and strawberries; zucchini, sweet corn, cilantro, and farmer’s cheese… to name a few). Geez, I see the first tomatoes, and I’m already imagining August! Silly me — how foolish it would be to miss out on other equally mouthwatering late-spring/early summer combinations: asparagus, new potatoes, and dill; spring onion, green garlic, and spinach; leek, potato, and sage; snap peas, basil, and broccoli — all with cheese, or course — use your imagination and the possibilities are endless!

That being said, do you have any ideas for tasty or unusual combinations? I’d love to hear them!

Tomatoes before Roasting

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