I’ve been eating a lot of delicious, fresh, raw tomatoes this summer. I joked that I could eat caprese salad every day, and then have pretty much done just that. I keep bringing home fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes and plucking leaves off my basil plants. It’s a perfect combination, but I finally decided to change it up and do something else with tomatoes. I had this recipe for warm tomato dressing from Living magazine from last year, and it’s a versatile sauce. It can be made in advance and then re-warmed for serving. In the magazine, it was shown as a topping for roasted fennel, and that’s how I served it. It would also be great with chicken or over polenta or with other roasted or grilled vegetables. I used some pretty, little pear tomatoes but any kind of cherry-type tomatoes will work great. They’re cooked with wine and balsamic vinegar and take on a sweet and tangy flavor.
I have to confess that I didn’t read the recipe very carefully when I was writing up a shopping list. I skipped right over the word ‘red’ next to wine in the ingredient list. When I started cooking, I realized we had no red wine in the house, and I had to use white wine instead. As you can see in the photos, the dressing still became a deep, red color from the balsamic vinegar. So, to make the dressing, the tomatoes were cooked in a skillet with a little olive oil for a few minutes, and then garlic, wine, and balsamic vinegar were added and cooked until the liquid was reduced by half. A little splash of red wine vinegar and salt were added at the end, and sugar was to have been added as well but I skipped it since I thought the sauce was sweet enough. To serve, I spooned the warm dressing over wedges of roasted fennel.
The mellow, roasted fennel was a well-matched vehicle for the tomato dressing, and the reduced and intensified balsamic and wine gave the dressing a nice, agrodolce kind of flavor. Of course, I’m always looking for ways to add spiciness, and I think some crushed red pepper would be an interesting addition here. I’m glad I tried something new because those heirloom tomatoes won’t be around much longer, and I needed to start kicking my caprese habit. And, this kind of cooked dressing could even be made with canned tomatoes later in the year.