My parents’ oven had broken sometime around Christmas. Which we realized when we pulled out the five trays of lasagna after an hour of “cooking”. Only to find really crisp noodles and thoroughly unmelted cheese. The standing rib roast that was sitting on the counter, waiting to be roasted to the consistency of shoe leather (according to my parents’ predilections) didn’t stand a chance. (Black and blue beef it was! Although I think I was the only one who was happy about that.)
We got through Christmas (thanks to one of my aunts, who lives across the street) and I went back to school. Totally carefree. Absolutely positive that it would be fixed by the time I returned.
A few months passed. I came home for spring break. Still no working oven. (Breathe, Jo. Breathe. It’s only two weeks. You. Can. Do. This.)
Hold on. I need to take a moment. Thinking about this still makes me tachycardic.
Okay. Much better. Let’s go on.
A few more months passed. I came home for summer vacation. Still no working oven. (I can’t imagine what was being cooked during all this time. Since I use my oven at least once a week. I’m thinking they must have been relying on take-out and fried chicken cutlets. It’s amazing they came out of this with their cholesterol levels intact.)
And this was where the shit hit the fan. Because maybe they could live without an oven for six months. But there was no way that I could do without one for three.
So I hemmed. And hawed. Cajoled. Prodded. Poked.
And around August. They finally caved.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I stood in the doorway. Seeing my parents off as they headed over to Sears. (Don’t they grow up so fast?) With a consumer’s guide in one hand. And a pizza pan in the other.
Oh yes. You read right. They chose their new oven. Not based on color. Or functionality. Or reputation. But based on whether or not it would hold a 14 inch pizza. (I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in that store. As they tried to shove the pan into every model and make on display. The salesclerks must have had a field day.)
The oven they ended up with may not have quite fit into the space that they intended for it. (Installing it was a total nightmare. I absented myself that evening. For the better. Sorry Daniel.) And it’s always fifty degrees too cold. But it can cook pizza. Which is what’s really important, right?
Irregardless of how much I chide my parents for their adoration of this delicacy. Pizza holds a pretty high place in my regard as well. (I’m pretty sure there’s a gene that controls this. And I have it. Probably multiple copies of it. In spades.) So when I was googling around trying to decide on what to make for the first Bittman-based IHCC. And stumbled upon this Plum Tomato Tart with Pesto. I knew I had to make it. As a pizza.
This recipe is a winner for many reasons. First. It uses up one of the ten containers of frozen pesto sitting in your fridge from last summer. A definite plus. Second. Bittman has you slow roast the tomatoes and garlic. Which is lovely. Absolutely lovely. Third. It’s covered in parmesan cheese. Need I say more?
Oven-Roasted Plum Tomato Pizza with Pesto
Serves 3 as a main dish, 10-12 as an appetizer, adapted from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything
12 plum tomatoes (I used 8 larger tomatoes)
6 garlic cloves
1 recipe for pizza dough (I used this one but with roasted-garlic olive oil instead of extra virgin)
1/2 cup pesto
mass amounts of parmesan cheese
1. To peel the tomatoes, remove the core, cut a shallow “X” on the other side, and drop them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. The peel should come right off. Slice them in half through the equator and squeeze out the juice and seeds. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil, and put the tomatoes cut-side down on the sheet. Sprinkle them with salt and a bit more oil, include the garlic, and roast at 200ºF for four to six hours, until they are shriveled.
2. Roll out the dough to a 12″ round and lay it on a pizza pan. Preheat the oven to 450. Spread the pesto on the dough and top it with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Add the garlic. Sprinkle on the cheese, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is well browned.
Remember to enter the caption contest that I am hosting over at MarxFoods for your chance to win a fantastic prize!
And to send in your recipes for Regional Recipes: Haiti!