Why am I always surprised when the simplest food turns out to be the most delicious?
Why can’t I get it through my thick skull that, as tantalizing as recipes with 30 ingredients may seem, the one with 10 ingredients is probably better?
I’m here to admit that I have a bias toward recipes that take more than one day,
or that have a mile-long list of ingredients,
or that include rare and exotic vegetables, meats, or spices.
Whenever that bias is challenged anew, by something as head-slappingly simple as this recipe, I am known to gawk like an idiot after savoring my first bite. The communication between my brain and tastebuds is something like: “Whaaaaaaaaaaaa?”
So take some tomatoes, onions, beans, basil, and bread and… that’s actually pretty much it. There are very few directions to follow in order to turn these five ingredients into a brain-meltingly delicious meal. Oh, and you know how sometimes when you cook something in olive oil, there’s all this incredible juice that begs to be mopped up and devoured crazily like some kind of wild animal? Well, there’s a good deal of that in this dish as well. So buckle up.
If you’re a hungry person, as I am most of the time, or you tend to lose control of your appetite when faced with amazing food, beware. This dish cannot be stretched to feed more than two of such people. Three, if you’re all willing to stare at each other afterward and silently wish, “If only HE wasn’t here, I could have eaten just a little more…” If you’re blessed with a more modest appetite, and so are your guests, then by all means this dish can be a lunch-size portion for four people. Just don’t be surprised when they sneak glances into the kitchen to see if there might be just one more slightly charred onion left to eat.
Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollili Onions with White Beans
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
1.5 lbs cipollini onions
2 lbs small Roma or plum tomatoes (or large cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup olive oil
Thickly sliced crusty bread (I used a roasted garlic loaf that was spectacular)
15 oz. can of white beans (Navy and Great Northern are good choices), drained and rinsed
Fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
Preheat oven to 375F. Blanch the onions in boiling water for 15-20 seconds and immediately cool with cold water. Use your fingers or a small knife to peel off the outer layer of skin. Spread out the onions and tomatoes in a roasting pan or thick cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season generously with coarse salt, and toss to coat. Bake for 45-55 minutes, turning the veggies every 15 minutes or so to get a good char.
Toast the bread and place in the base of a shallow bowl or on a large plate. Divide the beans evenly among the toasts. Top with the roasted onions and tomatoes and drizzle the collected olive oil and juices over the assemblage of deliciousness. Sprinkle the slivered basil leaves and try not to eat it too quickly.