I was very tempted to proudly call this “Super Simple 4-Ingredient Smoky Tomato Spread,” but first of all, that’s a little wordy, and second of all, that would probably make me guilty of false advertising for one of the ingredients: roasted cherry tomatoes. Since I have a slight (*cough*) case of OCD about wasting fresh food, I roasted a bunch of end-of-summer garden tomatoes, and I’m still making my way through the quart-size bag of them that I stashed in the freezer back in September. But I realize that they’re not exactly a pantry staple for everyone. If you’re not a produce hoarder like me, get a pint of cherry tomatoes, cut them in half, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, and roast at 300° for about an hour. If you are lucky enough to already have some roasted tomatoes in your freezer, too, then winner, winner, chicken dinner! There is hardly any prep work.
This spread was inspired by two things. First, after spending about a week out of town visiting family over the holidays, my husband and I were planning on spending a quiet New Year’s Eve at home, just the two of us—until about 7:00pm on December 30th, when we decided, What the heck, let’s invite friends over! And trust me, most of the less-than-24-hours we had to prepare needed to be spent cleaning the house, so the only appetizers I was considering making were ones that were maybe one step more complicated than taking the lid off of a veggie tray. Second, in high school I worked in a sandwich / cheese shop (which went out of business long ago), and we sold something called a “smoked tomato spread” that I thought was delicious. We didn’t make it in-house, and it wasn’t exactly what you’d call “artisan”: it came pre-packaged in a little plastic tub. I have no idea what was in it, but it’s one of those things that’s been in the back of my mind for years (years) about wanting to try to recreate. It had the texture of a cream cheese spread, so that’s what I used as the base.
I have seen recipes that call for smoking tomatoes or other vegetables with wood chips and the whole nine yards, and—while I’m sure it turns out delicious—I am a liquid smoke fan, especially since I found out that liquid smoke is not, in fact, a vial of synthetic chemicals; it’s made by condensing real smoke. Score! It’s inexpensive, takes a fraction of the time, and actually has good flavor. I bought a bottle of it for a crock-pot pork barbecue recipe, and I have been sold ever since. It helped give the spread the flavor that I was aiming for. I served the spread with crackers and bread, and leftovers have been great on sandwiches. And now I’m doing some wishful thinking about how dynamite it would be for breakfast on an everything bagel from Bodo’s…
Smoky Tomato Spread
makes a little over a cup
- 3/4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes (the dry-packed kind, not the oil-packed; shockingly, Whole Foods sells them for a good price)
- 1 oz. roasted cherry tomatoes
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
- Boil a cup of water and pour it over the sun-dried tomatoes. Let them soak for 15 minutes, and then remove them from the soaking liquid and use a paper towel to pat them as dry as you can. Discard the soaking liquid or use it for something else.
- Finely mince the sun-dried tomatoes and the roasted cherry tomatoes.
- Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste, if desired. I found that it didn’t need extra salt because both tomatoes already had some added.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend.