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Tomato, Onion and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

"Tomato jam" is the closest description to the flavors that result when plum tomatoes are oven roasted. The tomatoes are ready when they are wrinkled and darkened but still fairly moist. They will take at least an hour to prepare, so it is wise to double the recipe and reserve the remainder for another dish. They keep well frozen in a single layer in a heavy-duty plastic bag or airtight container for up to 1 month.

Ingredients:

For the oven-roasted tomatoes:

  • 4 large, firm ripe plum tomatoes, about 1 lb. total, halved lengthwise and seeded  
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  •   

For the caramelized onions: 

  • 1 1/2 lb. yellow onions, cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thin half circles (about 5 cups) 
  • 2 Tbs. water, or as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar  
  •   
  • 4 thick slices multigrain yeast bread (see related recipe at left) or other whole-grain coarse country bread, each about 3/4 inch thick, toasted  
  • 1/4 lb. fresh goat cheese or soft farmer cheese, at room temperature 
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (optional) 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 325°F.

To make the oven-roasted tomatoes, arrange the tomato halves, cut side up, in an 8-inch square baking pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast the tomatoes, turning them and rotating the pan so they will cook evenly, until wrinkled and browned but still moist, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove the tomatoes from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let cool. Uncover and remove any loosened peel.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized onions: In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, warm the onions and water. (The onions will come to the top of the pan but will reduce considerably in volume during cooking.) Cover and cook, stirring once or twice and adding more water if necessary to prevent scorching, until softened, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until the onions are a rich golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Add the dried thyme, salt and a grind of pepper and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend. Stir in the vinegar. Remove from the heat and let cool.

To assemble the sandwiches, place 1 slice of toasted bread on each plate. Spread each slice with the cheese, dividing it evenly. Top with the onions, again dividing evenly. Top each portion with 2 tomato halves. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).