Tomatoes probably present the most obvious reason to eat produce while it is in season. Out of season, tomatoes are mealy and flavorless. Unappealing. Unexciting. Just… icky. In season, they are juicy and sweet and yummy. The taste of summer. Seasonal tomatoes from my CSA box are what turned me into a tomato lover, actually more of a tomato snob. I still ask for a sandwich without tomatoes in a restaurant because I know they won’t be the delicious tomatoes I’ve come to love. “Um… ew… I wouldn’t touch such a thing. Don’t you even know who my palette is?! [Turns up nose, flips hair, talk to the hand]”
So how could I possibly make seasonal tomatoes fresh from the farm even tastier?? By slooooow roooooasting them. Even saying it gets me all hot and bothered.
Slow roasting tomatoes concentrates their flavor. It makes it more intense. I never really get what people are talking about when they refer to umami, the fifth taste, but I suspect it is this. The taste of a slow roasted tomato. Oh man… I wish I had some now.
I use them on pizza. I use them to make sauce. I add them to pasta. I eat them straight up because they are THAT delicious.
Set your oven to 250 degrees. Use any tomatoes you want. Remove the core of your tomatoes, slice, and lay them out on the baking sheet leaving room between them. Just like when you roast anything, overcrowding the pan means steaming instead of roasting. Brush each side of the tomato slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. If I’m using them for pizza, pasta, or on their own, I will sprinkle some dried herbs as well (basil, oregano, thyme usually).
Roast for at least 2 hours — I usually go 2.5. If you’re using cherry tomatoes, they’ll roast more quickly so maybe check after an hour. Now… you can decide when to take them out. There is no right or wrong here. I like to let them go until they are a little shriveled around the edges and have gotten smaller. That’s how you know they have really concentrated. I do like to leave them still a little juicy. Some people prefer to let them go even longer. Your choice. Don’t let all of that delicious flavor on the pan go to waste! Drizzle it over your pizza or pasta, or add it to your sauce.
Our new favorite grilled pizza is slow roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. How could that be anything but awesome? It can’t.
For sauce, you could either dice up your roasted tomato slices and toss with garlic, olive oil, herbs, and some pasta. Or you could puree with some roasted garlic and fresh herbs for a richer smoother sauce.
Want to make a big batch to put up for the winter? Once your tomatoes are cool, put them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and put in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can move them to a ziploc bag.
(Here’s a secret… this is a great thing to jazz up those flavorless out-of-season tomatoes. Shh… I never said that.)