My friend Karen had a lovely mom – grandma to Sophie and Lily. Her name was Mary Spivey. She was the best. She was beloved. Mary was a wonderful person. She had a very interesting life and shared it with her children. I learned so much being around her – about adventure and risks and what was important; about being quiet; about responsibility and fun; about acceptance. One day I will I tell you about Mary – as I knew her and about her life – as she told it to me. I had the good fortune of hearing about her early years, in detail, when we were in Paris together for one of her birthdays. She was so ahead of her time and so funny and competent. In addition to her history I have my own experience of her to share. I admired Mary so much and loved her and like so many, was so sad when she died. She left an amazing legacy of beautiful landscape watercolors that she painted and we are lucky enough to have a few of them hanging in our home.
When Mary died, Karen gave me a few of Mary’s cookbooks including Chez Panisse – Vegetables by Alice Waters. Every time I open this book, which is one of my favorites, I naturally spend time remembering Mary and how extraordinary she was.
Several weeks ago when I was walking with my friend Theresa she told me about these amazing tomatoes that she and her husband Alan had made. She described the recipe to me and told me that it had come from Alice Waters. Tomatoes. Well, being that it’s summer, we have tomatoes in our garden. Good idea. I pulled out my book – Chez Panisse – Vegetables and found the recipe for Tomato Confit.
Here it is.
It’s a versatile and useful recipe. Sometimes I peel the tomatoes as called for in the recipe. Sometimes I don’t peel the tomatoes, which is also lovely because the skins darken and are delicious. Perfect on Pasta. Perfect on bread. Perfect as a sandwich spread. If you have any oily juice left over after you use the tomatoes, just throw it into a small bowl and dip bread into the tomato/basil infused oil.
Thanks Karen, Mary and Theresa – you have all contributed.
(-from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters)
Tomatoes (about 2 per serving or enough to fit tightly into an ovenproof casserole). Tomatoes fresh from the garden are the best or tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market are also good. You can use smallish or bigish or huge. Whatever you want.
Fleur de sel
Pepper, black or red-pepper flakes or chipotle flakes
Make a bed of basil leaves in the bottom of an ovenproof dish or casserole. Peel and core or don’t peel but do core enough tomatoes to fit snugly into the casserole. Place the tomatoes core side down on the basil. Lightly salt and pepper the tomatoes. Pour in enough extra-virgin olive oil to come halfway up the sides of the tomatoes. Bake for 1 ½ hours in a pre-heated oven until the tomatoes are soft and lightly caramelized. Season to taste and spoon over cooked and drained noodles or put into a container and store.