Sheep's Cheeses with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Toasted Almonds
- Oven-Dried Tomatoes:
- 6 meaty plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
- Toasted Almonds:
- 1 cup whole unblanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 to 1 1/4 pounds sheep's-milk cheeses of two or three varieties, such as pecorino toscano, Manchego, Cabrales, Ossau-Iraty, Vermont Shepherd's Cheese, Old Chatham Pepper Pyramid, or Brin d'Amour
To make the tomatoes: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Put the tomatoes in a nonaluminum baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt to taste and the herbs, crumbling them between your fingers to release their fragrance. Bake until the tomatoes are very soft, wrinkled, and shrunken, but still moist, about 8 hours. Set aside to cool.
To make the almonds: Raise the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the almonds and blanch for 1 minute, then drain. Immediately transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel and wrap the towel around them. Vigorously rub the nuts in the towel to loosen the skins. Remove any skins that don't come loose; they should peel off easily by hand. Transfer the skinned nuts to a baking sheet. Rub with the olive oil and season with salt to taste. Bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to cool.
To serve, present the cheeses on a cheese board and pass the tomatoes and almonds separately. Alternatively, divid the cheeses, tomatoes, and almonds among 6 individual plates.
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