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Out of Office AutoReply

Today I planned to give you a recipe for a roasted eggplant salad. It was kind of an Italian riff on ratatouille, only minus the tomatoes and plus a dressing of roasted garlic, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. I found the recipe a handful of years ago in one of my cookbooks, made it a couple of times, and loved it. I was thrilled when I thought of it again last week, because it’s the perfect thing for late summer, when the market tables are piled high with shiny-skinned eggplants and peppers.

Unfortunately, however, when I made it this weekend, it was totally underwhelming. Actually, it was more than underwhelming: it bordered on painful. It was so aggressively vinegary that it singed my sinuses. It could probably be marketed, I think, as some sort of perverse aromatherapy – a new-age alternative, maybe, to smelling salts. I don’t know what I was thinking when I made it before and ate it so happily, but on this go-round, my first thought was DEAR GOD, PLEASE SAVE MY MOUTH.

So, needless to say, I am not going to tell you any more about that today. And I am so sorry, because this means that I have no new recipe to give you this week. As I type this, I am sitting on the floor of the Amsterdam airport, en route to France(!) for my first travel writing assignment(!!). I will be there for the next week, eating and drinking and feverishly taking notes, pinching myself at regular intervals to make sure that I am not in fact sitting at my desk in Seattle, imagining the whole thing. I will also be hoping that my sinuses soon recover sufficiently that I can actually smell and taste again. That would be really nice.

But before I go, I would like to quickly call your attention to something that may actually be even more perfect for late summer than that eggplant salad. It’s not a new recipe, per se, but as these things go, it’s only slightly used. It’s the recipe for pomodori al forno that ran with my column in the September issue of Bon Appétit. I’ve been meaning to call it to your attention for a couple of weeks now, ever since the magazine came out, and I figure that now is as good a time as any. Yes? I hate leaving you empty-handed.

Pomodori al forno is an appetizer served at Café Lago, one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, and is, as the name implies, a dish of oven-roasted tomatoes. But these are a very fine specimen of the genre. First, they are roasted long and slow with a bit of sugar and salt, dried oregano, and a good dose of olive oil. Then, when they are tender and a deep shade of scarlet, you transfer them to a bowl, layer them with lots of minced garlic and parsley, pour the (now tomato-infused) oil from the baking dish over the top, and let them marinate for a few hours. They wind up rich, concentrated, and sweetly pungent with garlic and herbs, and I have yet to meet a person who didn’t find them completely, completely addictive. Especially when served with goat cheese and toasts. And especially right now, when we should all be eating tomatoes by the dozen, before winter comes and steals them away.

Happy September, everybody. See you very soon.


Blogger Victoria said...

Dear Molly,

Have a wonderful and safe trip. Actually, I am fainting to go to Amsterdam, but I guess you won't be leaving the airport.

Thanks for this recipe, which I shall try minus the oregano. For some reason, I have developed an aversion to the dried stuff - but when necessary, I substitute marjoram instead.

Will be looking forward to hearing about your adventures when you return.

3:53 AM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous Dana McCauley said...

Enjoy your travels! I plan to roast tomatoes as soon as my garden allows. I have tons of fruit on my plants, they are just taking their time turning red (or in the case of the CHerokee purples, purple).
Cheryl at 5 Second Rule also had a nice roasted tomato post this weekend. Her approach produces a dry tomato which is also very delish and, dare I say it?, likely more versatile.

4:02 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger leedav said...

I read your article and started to make these in the commercial kitchen I use for preserving. I took them home for the second step but in my scatterbrained craziness of August, I forgot about them and they fermented in the car overnight. Wahhh! I am looking forward to a slower Sept. where I can focus a little more and complete tasks like this!

5:28 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger shari said...

dream job. :) hope you enjoy your trip! xo

6:06 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger JillyB said...

Have a very lovely time in France! I can't wait to hear about your adventures.

6:14 AM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous Pamela said...

Thank you for caring so much for our delicate senses. If I hadn't just dissolved into a heap at your description of the pomodori al forno I would have reached into your photo with a fork and stabbed a pomodoro to eat right now.

6:37 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger redman said...

why not just add less vinegar and make it again

7:36 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger jbeach said...

A truly wonderful recipe. Show stopper, show show stopper.

I made them last week -- boyfriend and roommate swooned.

'Made them last night for a party and they were a ginormous hit.

Thank you, Molly!!

7:38 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger The Fabulous One said...

Oh boy oh boy! Lucky you, going to France to eat and getting paid for it! I'm so jealous. I hope your sinuses recovered, because I don't think you can use "I killed my sinuses with some awful vinegar-y recipe I tried for my blog, and so I couldn't smell or taste, sorry!" as an excuse!

Have fun in France! Bring us back pretty pictures of food?

8:03 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Kitt said...

Hope your trip is more satisfying than those eggplants! Have fun.

Roasted tomatoes are so awesome. I just harvested a big batch and roasted half of them to make tomato sauce to freeze. (Pictures here.) They add a wonderful depth to the slow-cooked sauce.

8:09 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger bugheart said...

Café Lago
is a
grub-bugheart favorite.
we need to eat
when i am in town!
so excited for you
and your
in france...
hope you
have an amazing

8:18 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger megan said...

those tomatoes sound wonderful and who couldn't use another tip for using the POUNDS AND POUNDS of tomatoes they have sitting around. i wanted to mention that nigel slater has a similar idea for making a roasted tomato sauce that is, as usual for him, simple, elegant, and versatile. simply pile tomatoes of all sorts into a roasting pan and pour in a good amount of olive oil, tuck in some bay, and add a splash of red wine vinegar. thank you so much molly, and nigel, for saving us from our own tomatoes.

8:40 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Molly! Big Wow! Your first travel writing assignment! No amount of exclamation points will do justice to the thrill of that news! I'm tickled pink for you!

8:46 AM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous EB said...

Oooh! I made pomodori al forno right after I read your article. It was such a sweet article. I really know that feeling! I live in such an amazing neighborhood with tons of restaurants.... but the one that gives me that special feeling is (albeit short) a whole cab ride away. But man oh man. Simple, savory, amazing! Loved the tomatoes.

8:58 AM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a amazing time in France! It's a beautiful country. I'm going to make pomodori al forno on my day off this week. :D

9:02 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger hannah said...

FRANCE!!?? oh this is too much. i can not wait. get better little sinuses, quick quick. also, how many cameras did you take?

10:16 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger kickpleat said...

oh yum, molly, these look good. who wants eggplant anyway? i'll take a double dose of these!

11:01 AM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Lael said...

I have been craving tomatoes and goat cheese (not necessarily together - but that's always a good thing too) and I have parsley sitting in my fridge, so this recipe is getting made this week! Have a wonderful time in Paris, Molly!

11:26 AM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous Heather said...

I've long been a fan of the slow (as in several hours) oven roasting/drying of summer tomatoes. I stop them before they are too dried, just a tad chewy, and put them in everything for as long as the batch lasts.

This rendition, especially the extra marinating, has my mouth watering. If only this strange summer weather would have my own plants holding anything besides little green globes. Off to the market!

Have extra super duper fun in France. :)

12:29 PM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous blair said...

now *that's* a place for a writing assignment!!! Hope you have a great trip!

12:45 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and have been wanting to try it. Thanks!

12:55 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Meghan said...

I can vouch for the deliciousness of Pomodori al forno...I made the dish last week after reading about in Bon Appetit, and it is AMAZING. I'm already planning a second batch.

1:22 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger reya said...

Oh Amsterdam! You were so close!
Have a great time in France. I'll be there as well in just about two days. And congrats on the assignment too.

1:59 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Molly- congrats on your first travel writing assignment. How exciting! I can't wait to hear about it. Also have to say that I completely agree with eating tomatoes by the dozen right now. I'm doing everything from canning to slow roasting, the list goes on. I haven't tried thse yet, but I have a feeling, that's coming up soon! Have a great trip to France.

2:11 PM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous KBO said...

My friend and I made those tomatoes last week....sooooo good. We just got our first romas from our own garden, so I'm baking up some bread to go with another batch tomorrow. Deeeelicious.

2:33 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Kali said...

Man, what I wouldn't give to be sitting on the floor of the Amsterdam airport as well.

Of course, a delicious tomato recipe will make things a little better. :)

3:03 PM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous Erin said...

Have a wonderful time researching your assignment, sounds like my kind of work!
I do tomatoes in a similar way and it is a hit every time. I must try yours next time.

3:46 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Amanda Nicole said...

Wow! Congratulations on the travel writing assignment! That really is a dream come true.

I wanted to say that I baked the banana loaf you lasted posted, not once but TWICE this past long weekend: on Sunday as a contribution to Sunday lunch with the in-laws (BIG points with that one, thank you!) and then again on Monday, because Dave and I wanted one all to ourselves. I did substitute the eggs for applesauce due dietary requirements, and it turned out sweet and super moist.

Have a fantastic trip!

4:09 PM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous terry, SeductionMeals said...

While I love eggplant and was intrigued to learn about this recipe--you satisfied my curiosity with a second love - roasted tomatoes. Thank you!

4:15 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Aran said...

have a lovely trip!

4:29 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Kari said...

I am making this as we speak!

4:41 PM, September 02, 2008  
Blogger Shannalee || Food Loves Writing said...

Oh, Molly, you inspire me in so many ways. Enjoy France! I can't wait to hear about it!

7:35 PM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous cheriwan said...

Suggestion: Ratatouille inspired by the movie from Smitten Kitchen...It's a staple in my house this time of year with all the squash and peppers and eggplant. It's a MUST. I use the POMI crushed tomatoes in the dish, as I find them superior for this! Check it out, you won't be sorry!
Have a great trip!

10:26 AM, September 03, 2008  
Blogger Veena said...

Hi Molly,

I tried the pomodori recipe as soon as I saw it in Bon Apetit (in spite of being far from a tomato connoisseur) and it was oh sooo delicious! Meant to tell you earlier but kept forgetting. My husband likes to eat them with fresh mozzarella piled on top of a split open half of a baguette. Not very elegant but no less yumm! You got me to eat brussels sprouts almost a year ago and now my long time nemesis- tomatoes. My mom will love you for getting me to eat veggies! Be safe and enjoy France!


10:58 AM, September 03, 2008  
Blogger Snooky doodle said...

Have a nice trip. I ve given you an award please pass by my blog to collect it.

1:30 PM, September 03, 2008  
Blogger ila said...


I hope you have a safe trip. I can see it now- the finest food porn from the city of amour, and the cutest entry on it!

2:16 PM, September 03, 2008  
Anonymous Hillary said...

Hope you're having a spectacular time in Europe! I'm so jealous! I've never been to France but I've been to Amsterdam and loved it!

2:45 PM, September 03, 2008  
Blogger Erin said...

Let's trade jobs, ok? You can come work at my super exciting office job in Chicago, and I'll help you out by eating and writing in France. Good trade? Enjoy your trip!

I didn't get my September issue of Bon Apetit yet... hope it comes soon! I will have to experiment with the tomatoes with or without the rest of the issue. They sound fantastic!

7:46 PM, September 03, 2008  
Anonymous www.potsandpins.com said...

Congrats on the article - I read it and am going to try the recipe this weekend...maybe even venture to Cafe Lago since I've heard SO much about it! Have a safe trip! Nan

5:44 PM, September 04, 2008  
Blogger amisha said...

have a wonderful time in france, molly!! and congratulations on the writing gig! can't wait to hear about all your adventures.

5:48 PM, September 04, 2008  
Blogger Nik Snacks said...

Yes, yes, have a safe and happy trip. Congratulations and much luck to you on your 1st travel assignment. I just had mine last week. I didn't go as afar as you, but I had fun, nevertheless.

Take care.

10:48 PM, September 04, 2008  
Blogger janelle said...

Huh, I was just about to look up my own recipe for roasted romas, because I have a hoard of them on my counter. And what do you know? I ran across yours... and think I should try it.

I haven't been to Cafe Lago in awhile, thanks for the reminder!

1:48 PM, September 05, 2008  
Anonymous Julie said...

I want to be you when (if) I grow up.

6:41 PM, September 05, 2008  
Anonymous Maeg said...

Molly, if you get a minute, do you think this could be done with cherry or grape tomatoes? Those options tempt me so much because they would seem to make such tidy, appetizer sized bites, you know?

8:01 PM, September 05, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made this today for my sister and her fiancé's "prenup" party (as in prior to nuptials) tomorrow. I think to get the full effect I should try tasting it with some of the Blue Moon goat cheese made in Bainbridge Island that I picked up at the farmers market today and some nice bread. For all the eight years I've lived in Seattle, I think I've only been to Café Lago once and don't remember being amazed, especially for the price... perhaps I owe it another visit. I think I'm going to stop the left over oil with some balsamic to go with bread -- or perhaps with some nice olives chopped up and tossed in. -- sweet lime

11:05 PM, September 05, 2008  
Blogger F. said...

Hello Molly , Love your blog but never posted a comment before now.

Congrats on your trip, just wanted to let you know that if you coming to Paris definitely try the restaurant Le Jardinier its on 5 rue Richer 75009 tel: 01 48 24 79 79, and no I don't own it was just eating there this week, it was a truly amazing dining experience , beautiful decor + fantastic food . try the fois gras 3 ways , and the pear souffle as dessert! and have fun in Paris !


7:57 AM, September 06, 2008  
Blogger LT Garcia said...

So why is it that one must sit on the floor in the Amsterdam airport before they open your gate? And why is it that they don't open your gate until 45 minutes before the flight? And why is the floor there so hard and cold?

Really I love Amsterdam, but that airport situation is just weird.

Hope the rest of your trip is lovely!

9:01 AM, September 07, 2008  
Anonymous carrie said...

if you need any paris savvy tips or some food photography let me know! i live in the 2nd.

9:30 AM, September 07, 2008  
Blogger charlotte s said...

hey! enjoy your trip! paris, food, writing.... what a dream :)

1:26 PM, September 07, 2008  
Blogger Mélanie said...

Hi Molly
I discovered your blog a few months ago, I love it!
I live in paris, so if you're still there, I'd love to show you around. Maybe we could meet and discuss about french food & other?

2:59 AM, September 08, 2008  
Anonymous Mel said...

How exciting Molly! You're in Pair-eeeh! Its amazing to see such a brilliant food writer succeeding.

I start back at cooking school this week and feel more inspired than ever. Thanks to you.

Safe travels.....

8:06 AM, September 08, 2008  
Blogger Bittersweet said...

Absolutely loved these tomatoes, as in groan-worthy, ditched the rest of the planned dinner just to gorge myself.

Also, m'dear, I'm starting a blog myself, to keep everyone updated on my travels this year, and was wondering if you'd mind if I linked up to yours, since all I've been doing to prepare myself for being away from the kitchen is make your recipes. ;) Please let me know if that's a problem! Have a look, if you have a moment: bittersweetfeast.blogspot.com

Can't wait to hear about your adventures!

9:24 AM, September 08, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well. I have been feeling up and down and left and right that fall can't get here fast enough. But now, with this, I'm suddenly a summer hanger-onner. Hanger-oner?

8:21 PM, September 08, 2008  
Anonymous justfoodnow said...

I have this really bgood recipe for a simple orange cake to match your weather and your site ......... :)

Always adore this site!

12:36 PM, September 09, 2008  
Anonymous Sexy pinay said...

hi there! I like the design of your blog.. anyway, i just stubled upon here from google.. what can I say? I must subscribe to your feed =)

2:28 PM, September 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. it was a smash at the party, definitely better after it sits for a day.

-sweet lime

8:16 PM, September 15, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly-

These wonderful tomatoes accompanied a huge lobster dinner this past weekend in a little house on Cliff Island, about 15 miles off the coast of Portland, Maine. They were a huge hit! I used a mix of yellow and red tomatoes, and fresh oregano that I dried myself. I'm looking forward to cooking from your site even more.


10:45 AM, September 17, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, wow. These were soooooooo good - we had them with little toasted french bread stick slices and persian feta, and when they were gone we took the rest of the fresh bread stick and gorged ourselves, mopping up the oil pooled on our plates. The oil was amazing!! The tomatoes are all gone now, but I still have the leftover oil saved in a jar for more bread-dipping-gorging action.

Also made your skillet potatoes - mmmm, delicious - they're going to be my new summer potato salad. (I'm in Australia, see, and so am stockpiling these handy recipes for my forthcoming season of picnics)

2:31 AM, September 20, 2008  
Blogger jen said...

Molly - I made these for my best friends bridal shower. They were a smash. Thank you so much for sharing! I love your blog. Hope you're having fun!

10:15 AM, September 22, 2008  

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