Roasted Tomatoes and Onions on Toast

August 13, 2014

If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: Managing Editor Kenzi Wilbur tries to convince you to turn on your oven in August. You should listen.

Roasted Tomatoes and Onions on Toast

Shop the Story

Late-summer dinners are an exercise in assembly. They are avocado toast, or leftovers, cold. They are heaped bowls of raw vegetables with vinaigrette, even the tossing of which might make your forehead bead with sweat. We're not wearing many clothes these days, and our produce isn't either: We eat our peaches out of hand and our Jersey reds by the slab with a fork and knife, like a fat steak. At most, we'll dress them like we do ourselves in gauzy summer shirts: with a slip of olive oil, or a sheer drape of brown butter. Why would we do more? We want to let our vegetables express themselves; we want them to be free.

And yet here I am, in almost-mid August, telling you to take your free, unconstrained produce, and do the thing no one wants to do in mid-August: Apply heat. 

Roasted Tomatoes and Onions on Toast

Here is why this isn’t foolish: There is a special magic that happens when you roast tiny tomatoes in a shallow puddle of seasoned olive oil until they burst. This dish will break up your raw tomato routine, replace it, and seduce you anew. It will make you look favorably on letting one corner of your kitchen rip at 400 degrees for almost an hour. Even now. Even when you’re sweating and you’re already wearing no pants and putting on an oven mitt feels vaguely like slipping into a down parka. Have faith: The end will justify the means. 

The inspiration for this recipe came from the treasure trove that is The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Deb Perelman’s perfect union involves cipollinis and mini-Romas together, poured over toast with white beans for heft. Mine involves sungolds and cherry tomatoes bathed in olive oil, spring onions instead of cipollinis (I’m too lazy to peel the latter), and husky cloves of garlic roasted alongside the whole mess, to be spread on the toast like butter. Instead of the beans, to make it a meal, I eat seconds.

Roasted Tomatoes and Onions on Toast

Toss your produce in a tide pool of olive oil, and shove it all into a hot oven. The tomatoes will burst and slouch, in that order, and the onions will turn soft. Everything will get a little toasty. Stir, take a long drink of ice water, stir again, more ice water. Then dump it all onto toasted bread spread with that garlic you roasted. If you’re like me, you’ll want to eat this so badly that you’ll forget a sprinkle of basil. This is okay. 

Do not, under any circumstances, neglect scraping the pan well with a spatula; those juices are this recipe’s proudest achievement. They are the reason you’ll go back for seconds. In Deb’s words, “what collects at the bottom of the pan is as close to manna as I think I’ll experience in my lifetime.” Those juices are how this dish will feed your soul. 

If you plan on making this for a first date, let me tell you now: This is a fork and knife situation. If you do endeavor to pick them up like toasts and have your way with them, position a plate square under you, be ready to lean over it, and make certain your company already loves you. Tomatoes will fly. Onions will drop. Juices from both will run free without path. Let them. 

Roasted Tomatoes and Onions on Toast

Roasted Tomatoes and Onions on Toast

Serves 3 to 4

1 pound spring onions (or pearl onions, or other smallish onions)
Scant 1 1/2 pounds cherry, grape, and/or sungold tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 to 5 big cloves garlic
Kosher salt
4 to 5 thick slices of country bread
Herbs for garnish, optional (I like basil or thyme)

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here. 

Photos by Eric Moran

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • claudiajc
  • Rina
  • jbban
  • fiveandspice
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


claudiajc February 21, 2018
Are you a poet, woman? I felt inspired just by reading this review in the middle of winter, with no tomatoes in my fridge.
Rina August 18, 2014
Fantastic writing here Kenzi. This justifies my love of reading great food writing more than reading anything else. Keep it coming.
jbban August 15, 2014
Love this! Especially: "Instead of the beans, to make it a meal, I eat seconds."
fiveandspice August 14, 2014
Marian B. August 13, 2014
So beautiful. I like this because it is a really great way to use up those getting-old sungolds on my counter, and a great litmus test for dates: Do I like this person enough to eat messy toast in front of them? Is there a toast-themed online dating site out there?
Kenzi W. August 14, 2014
There should be. The Toast Connection.
miznic August 14, 2014
rofl, and if ANYONE can make this happen, y'all need to hire Kenzi to do the advertising. Sheesh, she can make a plain glass of ice water sound seductive. lol
Kenzi W. August 14, 2014
Ha, I don't know about that -- but know that I would try. Also, next What to Cook Now: Water.
Marian B. August 14, 2014
selling ice to eskimos.
miznic August 13, 2014
Wow. I don't think I've ever been so seduced by a piece of writing... this not only has me wanting to turn the oven on, but to worship at this altar of roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic on country bread.
Kenzi W. August 13, 2014
Success! And this actually reminds me of the way Deb talks about her recipe -- there's a lot of religious language floating around. Try it and you'll understand.
miznic August 14, 2014
I picked up some cipollinis at the farmer's market this morning. This is tomorrow's lunch... just trying to figure out if a poached egg would be gilding the lily...
Catherine L. August 13, 2014
Done and done. I will be making this on Friday and eating it on my sofa in my PJs with a glass of wine. And I can't wait.
Kenzi W. August 13, 2014
Tonight! Tonight I want to do that.
Kristen M. August 13, 2014
Dinners on toasts are the best dinners, but more importantly, you've made me want to turn on the oven.
AntoniaJames August 13, 2014
Bet that would be memorable on the polenta bread I make from Robertson's first Tartine book. Here's another reason to turn on the oven in the summer: You've inspired me to turn that into dinner, serving it over toasted Tartine bread, instead of as a snack/appetizer with my homemade dukkah-dusted lavash crackers. Cheers. ;o)
Kenzi W. August 13, 2014
Oh, Tartine bread. Yes.
AntoniaJames August 13, 2014
Have you made the polenta variation on the Basic Country Bread? Polenta + toasted pumpkin seeds + a few toasted sesame seeds + finely chopped fresh rosemary. I have a bit on hand right now, and nice cool weather, as usual here in the summer, so turning on the oven is no problem at all, so I will most certainly be trying this . . . though I'm thinking I'll stir in at the end a few coarsely chopped pickled cherry tomatoes (Paul Virant's recipe from "Preservation Kitchen") to perk things up a bit and balance the sweetness of the roasted ingredients. And seriously, this + arugula and avocado salad shall = one fine supper. ;o)
Kenzi W. August 14, 2014
I haven't -- but now it is sitting at the top of my list. Like the pickled tomatoes idea! Let me know how that turns out if you try it.