Hi there! I’m here with simplest summer side that I cannot stop making.
In my mind, a summer side has a few requirements it must meet in order to make it into my weekly rotation. I look for sides that require minimal cooking because I have absolutely no interest in standing over a hot stove once the Virginia heat kicks in. Second, I am always looking for sides that use seasonal ingredients - fresh herbs, berries, or just about anything I can bring home from the farmer’s market. We eat fairly seasonally all year long, but during the summer months, when nearly everything I love is in season, it’s a non-negotiable. Lastly, I love sides that can easily transfer from dining table dinners to snacks on the patio.
These humble roasted tomatoes meet all my summer side requirements and are anything but boring thanks to one of my very favorite herbs - lemon thyme. If you have never tried lemon thyme, you must. I rarely see it in the grocery store, but I have had great luck finding plants at plant nurseries and farmer’s markets.
The flavor is distinctly lemon-y and while English thyme has much heartier undertones, lemon thyme is delicate and summery, and I LOVE the extra pop of acidity that it brings to ripe tomatoes.
I essentially have two recipes here for you because I could not choose a favorite way to serve these tomatoes.
They make an incredible side all on their own. I love to pair them with grilled chicken, but they are versatile enough to join almost any plate. I have also tossed them into pasta before for a super quick vegetarian dinner! But, if you are looking to turn them into more of an appetizer or snack dinner, they can also become a pretty stellar crostini.
While you toast up several slices of your current favorite country loaf, pull out your food processor and let’s make whipped ricotta.
I am a ricotta-fanatic, but when I discovered whipped ricotta, I was smitten. It completely changes the cheese itself, turning it into a luxuriously smooth spread that even ricotta-critics cannot resist.
Just smear a generous spoonful over your toast, top with tomatoes, and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and you are living summer in the best way possible.
Lemon Thyme Roasted Tomatoes with Whipped Ricotta
serves 4-6 as a side or 6-8 as an appetizer
prep time: approximately 15 minutes / cook time: 25 minutes
Cook’s Note: This recipe can easily be halved for smaller servings.
32 ounces cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half of a large lemon)
1/4 cup lemon thyme, leaves stripped from stems and stems discarded
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 ounces whole milk ricotta
country loaf or baguette, for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice; toss to coat. Sprinkle the tomatoes with thyme leaves and salt and toss several times.
Spread the tomatoes evenly over the prepared baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes; until the tomatoes have blistered, but are still in-tact.
Cook’s Note: You may choose to stop right now as these tomatoes make a perfect side all on their own, but if you are looking for a heartier snack or appetizer, they also translate wonderfully into a crostini.
While the tomatoes cool, prepare the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to the work bowl of your food processor and pulse on high speed for 3 minutes; until the ricotta is completely smooth and resembles loose cream cheese in appearance.
Brush several slices of your favorite bread with olive oil and toast under your oven’s broiler until crisp and golden.
To serve, spread a large spoonful of whipped ricotta onto each slice of toast, top with several of your roasted tomatoes, and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Cook’s Note: Both tomatoes and ricotta will keep well in the refrigerator for several days. To reheat the tomatoes, simply microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes before serving.