It's a special alchemy that occurs this time of year when tomatoes and basil meet an oven. My roasted tomatoes recipe transforms even semi-mealy or bruised and broken local tomatoes into a sweetness you will mourn for after frost. The summer and early fall menu I most often serve guests includes risotto topped with roasted tomatoes, a salad of anything fresh, good crusty bread from Trinacria, and sauteed peaches (bruised ones from the farmers market) with mascarpone. Your guests will likely detect the other-worldly roasted tomato fragrance before you even answer the door and you'll notice my menu omits a first course, as wading through an appetizer while the tomatoes await seems cruel.
I enjoy making this a visual feast as well, so whenever possible, I use red and yellow tomatoes. Any type of oven-safe dish will do, but I like to use an eight-inch square pyrex dish and nine big tomatoes or sixteen little tomatoes for a snappy checkerboard effect.
The tomatoes must be skinned - not a big deal. While boiling a few inches of water in a soup pot or wide saucepan, cut into the tomatos just enough to remove the top part of the core and then make a small x on the bottoms. Place tomatoes in the boiling water, cover, and when the skins begin to wrinkle after a moment or two, remove the tomatoes to a bowl, preferably an ice bath. While they cool, wash a big farmers market-sized bundle of basil and don't worry about drying it. Coat the bottom of the dish with a little olive oil and then add the basil leaves. Carefully skin the tomatoes and place them core side down into the dish. I usually roast them at 400 degrees - but anywhere between 350 and 425 degrees works - until about after an hour or so, when the tomatoes become slightly charred.
At serving time, use a slotted spoon - these babies are soupy. And one last instruction - after your guests go home, drink the nectar remaining in the dish.