2 kg lovely ripe cherry tomatoes , mixed colours if you can find them
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh bay
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic , peeled and chopped
12 higher-welfare Cumberland or coarse Italian pork sausages
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
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There are so many things I love about this dish: it’s all cooked in one tray; 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 tinned tomatoes; and we’re roasting the sausages, which I think is far better than frying or grilling them. Try to buy the best fresh coarsely ground sausages you can.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Get yourself an appropriately sized roasting tray, large enough to take the tomatoes in one 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 tray 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 it’s cooked, you’ll have an intense, tomatoey sauce. If it’s a little too thin, lift out the sausages and place the tray on the hob to cook it down to the consistency you like – I tend to make mine quick 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.
PS Any leftovers can be chopped up and made into a wonderful chunky pasta dish, using penne or rigatoni, the next day.