Sunday, August 7, 2011

You Say Tomato

It's the time of the year when vegetable gardens explode.  I know that because we rented a community garden for three years.  One year in a fit of giddy spring enthusiasm we planted 28 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.  That's right, twenty-eight different kinds. Needless to say, I've tried virtually every recipe and method of preserving/cooking/canning/freezing tomatoes on the planet.  The following technique for roasting tomatoes is far and away my favorite for a variety of reasons - it's easy, it doesn't require specialized equipment, the tomatoes don't take much room in the freezer, and they have a delicious, concentrated flavor.  The texture is halfway between a sun-dried tomato (which can be dry and chewy), and a canned tomato (too watery for some recipes).  Roasted tomatoes are ideal for egg dishes, tarts, quiches, pizzas, and stirring into other dishes such as cooked lentils served alongside a nice grilled salmon.  Close your eyes and picture them tossed in a green salad!  They would also work perfectly for spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and any other dish calling for diced or crushed canned tomatoes. 

Assuming for the moment that you don't have 28 different varieties of tomatoes to contend with, why would you want to buy and roast your own?  First, you can't buy tomatoes with this particular texture and flavor from a store.  Second, you're in control of the salt and other flavors.  Third, they'll remind you of summer when you break them out of the freezer in January and will make you smile.  And fourth, they're pretty darn spectacular when showcased in a tart, pizza, or salad. All you need is a baking pan (or two) with a rim, lined in foil to prevent the juices from running all over your oven.  I typically use the bottom part of the broiler pans that always seem to come with ovens.  When you're done, all you have to clean is a knife and a spatula.

So if you have the opportunity to buy some tomatoes at your local market in the next few weeks and a few hours of time when you'll be hanging around the house, I encourage you to give it a try.  It's fun!

printable recipe
Roasted Tomatoes
Tomatoes - beefsteak or roma (just not cherry tomatoes)
Olive oil
Optional:  slivered garlic, fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 350d. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil and brush with olive oil.  Core the tomatoes and cut in half.  For romas, cut through the stem end.  For beefsteak tomatoes, cut through the horizontal middle (not the stem).  Poke the seeds out with your fingers and put the tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet.   Rule of thumb - I was able to fit 12 romas (24 cut halves) per broiler pan.  Beefsteak tomatoes would probably fit 8-10 per pan depending on size.  Brush the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with garlic and herbs if you wish. Put the pan in the center of the oven.  If you have two pans, put them in the top and bottom thirds and rotate after half the time.  Roast romas for 2 hours, and beefsteak tomatoes for approximately 3 hours, until shrunken and dark.  Cool and pack in a container with any juice or olive oil that remained in the pan.  If you want roasted tomato olive oil for bread dipping or salad dressing, pour additional olive oil over the tomatoes.  Freeze.

48 roma tomato halves in one small container

1 comment:

Fruit Guy said...

My garden was to small for tomatoes this year. Where do you have the best luck buying yours?