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Slow-Baked Tomatoes

Think of this as the lazy - but smart, cook's alternative to bruschetta. Don't get me wrong, I love bruschetta as much as the next person. But I think I love it more when someone else does all the slicing, dicing and assembling.

With this recipe, you literally toss 4 ingredients in a baking dish - choose one for oven to table like this one from Dragon Flameware, pour a glass of wine and walk away from the oven for an hour. When you return, make sure you resist that nagging urge to get your Martha on by assembling individual appetizers. Simply lay out some crusty baguette slices, a creamy goat cheese and a knife and move on to your next course, or your next glass of wine.

Another host-friendly feature, apart from everything, is it's equally delicious hot, warm or room temp so there's no stressing out about the timing. It's also a great way to spice up your main dish so make extra to spoon over pasta, polenta or pork tenderloin.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes or 1 1/2 lbs grape tomatoes

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

7 garlic cloves, peeled, split lengthwise and green shoot removed

1 bunch fresh mint, trimmed

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse or flake salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

toasted slices of rustic bread

goat cheese (optional)

Preparation:

1 - Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wash and drain tomatoes well. Pat dry with paper towels.

2 - In a nonreactive (such as earthenware) 2-quart baking dish place tomatoes in a single layer. Pour on olive oil so they are very well coated and there should be a thin layer (1/8 inch) of oil on bottom of dish. Toss in garlic, mint, salt and pepper.

3 - Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes or until tomato skins split and soften but tomatoes still retain their shape.

4 - Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Spoon or mash over slices of toasted bread and serve with goat cheese. Makes 8 servings. Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.