Monday, September 6, 2010

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

It's nearing the end of the summer and sure enough the farmers markets and stores are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. One item that I see an abundance of but have never been able to fully enjoy each season is tomatoes. Other than in pico or salsa, tomatoes have not become an integral part of my cooking, likely due to taste issues from both of us. I've really wanted to find a way to love tomatoes like I do the other vegetables I eat on a consistent basis because of the additional nutrients it would add. In my endless food blog stalking, I found a recipe for slow roasted tomatoes at Pinch My Salt that looked tempting. I wondered if Brad would even give it a try since he's a tomato hater. So on the night we invited our friends Keslie and Jody over for dinner I decided to give it a try, since I knew that Keslie would eat anything related to tomatoes. 

Let's just say....there was none left over by the end of the night. Brad and Jody, both veggie haters even enjoyed them. As Brad said, they taste like marinara sauce. 

This recipe is incredibly easy and most people probably already have the ingredients in their cabinets. First get as many tomatoes as you desire. I figure if I'm going to be keeping the oven on for quite a few hours, I might as well make up a huge batch. You can store them for later, the ones you don't devour after they are finished baking, by placing them in a container with some olive oil and placing in the fridge. You can also freeze them in plastic bags for several months as well, if they last that long. As far which tomatoes to use, just about any will do. I've used small cherry, grape, or pear tomatoes because they are a bit sweeter and take less time to roast, but Roma tomatoes will also work. 

After washing the tomatoes and slicing them in half, lay them cut side up on a cooking pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and season with a bit of corse kosher salt. For the additional seasonings, any Italian type of herb will work (thyme, oregano, rosemary, fennel seed, and marjoram). For the latest batch I made, I mixed even amounts of thyme and oregano, and added a little bit of marjoram and dried rosemary. It's best, especially if you use fennel seeds, to grind them up to a fine powder with either a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Since I had neither, I opted to not use fennel seeds, and just used my dried herbs. Sprinkle the herb mixture on top of all the tomatoes and make sure everything is coated evenly. Throw some unpeeled garlic cloves on the pan as well. 

Heat the oven to 225 degrees and cook for 3-4 hours. Enjoy the lovely smells throughout your entire house while they cook. The cooking time will depend on the size of the tomatoes. When I've used cherry tomatoes, between 3-4 hours worked great. Just watch them starting early in the cooking time. They are done when they are shriveled but still have a bit of moisture left. 

Although I'd love to eat them all up right now, I need to keep some of these for future hungry times. I used a canning jar, filled it with tomatoes, place a few garlic cloves in there, added some olive oil and store it in the fridge. 

Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (adapted from Pinch My Salt)
Cherry, grape or pear tomatoes (or whatever tomatoes you like)
Garlic cloves, unpeeled
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Combination of dried Italian herbs (such as fennel, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary)
- Cut enough tomatoes to fill the sheet pan (about 2 small baskets should do the trick) and place them cut-side up on the parchment paper.  Scatter a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves throughout the tomatoes. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
- Drizzle olive oil all over the tomatoes and garlic, then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
- Mix together some dried Italian herbs and grind the herbs into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle then sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes. You can also omit grinding the herbs if you aren't using fennel seeds.
- Bake at 225 degrees for 3-4 hours, or until they have shriveled but still contain a bit of moisture inside.  The time will depend on the size of your tomatoes, so start checking early.
- Let cool and eat immediately or store in a covered container with a bit of olive oil in the refrigerator.  

Here are some other slow-roasted tomatoes recipes from different food bloggers:
 Slow-Roasted Tomatoes at Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow Roasted Tomatoes at Smitten Kitchen

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