When chef Nancy Silverton needs a side dish for a dinner party, she turns to her oven: half heads of cabbage are baked in olive oil; grapes are carefully roasted until they’re on the brink of pruning; onions are cooked in a bath of oil, apple vinegar, sage, and bay leaves. But no ingredient benefits more from the simple approach than a perfect tomato, which Silverton — the James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur — finds in abundant supply near her home in Panicale, Italy.
In her class for YesChef — a subscription-based streaming platform offering cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs — Silverton demonstrates how she intentionally leaves the stems on halved tomatoes, slicing each tomato carefully so it’s still attached to the vine. The technique is purely for aesthetic reasons; the fresh produce and quality olive oil do all the rest. “The ingredient becomes not only the inspiration, but it becomes the key element in any dish,” Silverton says. “Quite frankly, if you start with something that is so well-sourced and that is so delicious, really, at least three-quarters of the work has been done for you.”
Silverton serves the finished roasted tomatoes alongside other contorni (aka that cornucopia of roasted vegetables), fresh buffalo mozzarella, olives, and platters of sliced salami and mortadella. — Erin DeJesus
Roasted Tomatoes With Thyme Recipe
35 Roma tomatoes halved lengthwise, retaining the stems
15 small thyme branches, divided, plus more for stronger taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Step 1: Adjust the oven rack to the top position and preheat to 375 degrees.
Step 2: Spread 10 thyme sprigs over a sheet pan and add the olive oil.
Step 3: Halve the tomatoes lengthwise, place them cut side up on the prepared sheet pan, and season with salt.
Step 4: Separate thyme leaves from the remaining branches and scatter them over the tomatoes.
Step 5: Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes turn soft.
Step 6: To serve, arrange the tomatoes cut side up on a decorative platter and garnish with thyme sprigs.