August 24, 2010
Food preservation is in full swing here. It started with pesto, then last week I picked up a big bag of pickling cukes (so crisp and cucumbery!) and started a batch of dill pickles that are now fermenting and later will be canned. I also made two kinds of refrigerator pickles: dill and bread and butter. Then, I snuck off to the market again on Sunday and came home with a big box of mostly roma tomatoes as well as peppers, onions, cilantro and garlic. Though I can't wait until I have space to grow these veggies myself, it seems like a steal to be able to procure a big pile of produce for about $20 make 13 pints of salsa. We shouldn't have to buy salsa all winter and there are still so many tomatoes left over.
Last year I discovered the miracle of slow roasted tomatoes. Simply sliced, the fruit basks in the warmth of the oven for a few hours and comes out relaxed, softly slumped and transformed into the epitome of deep tomato flavor. If you want to preserve an abundance of tomatoes with very little work, all you need is a knife, an oven, and a freezer. Recipes for these sweet morsels are all over the place. If, like me, you are late to the slow roasted tomato party, don't wait any longer to come and join in the feast. Bite into their juicy, still warm flesh after they come out of the oven, spread them on bread or over polenta and ricotta cheese, or freeze them and in the dead of winter make a crimson sauce for pasta or pizza.
Just make them, you can't go wrong.
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
You can use as many or as few tomatoes as you have available, but I prefer to fill the oven since I am going to have it on anyway. Most recipes for slow roasting tomatoes call for a 200 degree oven for 4 hours or more. I find that the oven at 300 degrees for 2 hours or so, does the trick very nicely. Even in hot weather, this is totally worth it, but I am sure there will still be tomatoes in September and maybe your weather will have cooled off by then?
Ripe tomatoes, Roma work very well as they are less juicy, but other varieties work fine, too.
Salt and Pepper
Finely chopped herbs, such as marjoram, thyme or oregano, if desired.
Set the oven at 300 degrees. Wash the tomatoes, remove the core and any bad spots if there happen to be some. Slice each tomato in half and place it cut side up on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil for easy clean up of tomato juice leaks). They can be very close together. When the tray is full, brush the top of each tomato slice with olive oil, sprinkle about 2 cloves of minced garlic per tray, seasoning with salt and pepper and chopped herbs, if using. Place each tray on an oven rack. After about an hour, check the tomatoes, if they seem very dried out, brush a little more oil on each one. After another hour, check again. They are ready when they are soft, shriveled and shrunken to about 1/3 of their size. Keep them in fridge for use within the next week or, once cooled, freeze them in an airtight container.