Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake
- 4 1/4 pounds lovely ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
- 2 sprigs each fresh thyme, rosemary and bay
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 12 good-quality coarse Italian pork sausages
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
There are so many things I love about this dish: it's all cooked in 1 pan; we're using more robust herbs like thyme, rosemary and bay with the tomatoes, which work really well; the half-roasted, half-stewed fresh tomatoes turn into a lovely rich and chunky sauce which is miles better than anything you can get if using canned tomatoes; and we're roasting the sausages, which I think is far better than frying or broiling them. Try to buy the best fresh coarsely ground sausages you can.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Get yourself an appropriately sized roasting pan, large enough to take the tomatoes in 1 snug-fitting layer. Put in all your tomatoes, the herb sprigs, oregano, garlic and sausages. Drizzle well with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together, then make sure the sausages are on top and pop the pan into the oven for half an hour. After this time, give it a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how golden and sticky you like your sausages.
Once cooked, you'll have an intense, tomatoey sauce. If it's a little too thin, lift out the sausages and place the pan on the stove to cook it down to the consistency you like - I tend to make mine quite thick - then put the sausages back in. Check the seasoning and serve either with a good-quality loaf of bread warmed through in a low oven for 10 minutes (great for mopping up the sauce!) or with mashed potato, rice or polenta, a green salad and a nice glass of wine.
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