Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes

When I was living at my last house and knew I'd be moving out midsummer, I decided to try my hand at growing tomatoes in large buckets.  They seemed to be happy and  developed fruit pretty quickly despite our delayed warm weather.  However, when I eagerly tried my first ripe tomato, I was tragically disappointed.  They looked beautiful on the outside, but had that awful watermelon texture on the inside.  Nothing like a how a home-grown tomato should be.  I was grief-stricken until I saw a post on David Lebovitz's about roasting tomatoes.  Aha! I roasted a hefty batch and discovered that the process completely eliminated my tomatoes' unwelcome texture.  They were sweet and intensely flavorful. So, if you have crummy tomatoes as well, or if you just have too many, roasting them is a great way to control your bounty. Plus, you can easily freeze them in bags for use in the winter. 

Not only is it incredibly easy to roast tomatoes, but also the finished product can be used in a variety of ways.  My plan was to store up a bunch for the winter, but I ended up using my first batch that night as a chunky tomato sauce for pizza.  It was delicious. They'd also be great on crostini with goat cheese. Or blended up and used as a pasta sauce.

As your removing your roasted tomatoes from the pan, make sure to reserve the leftover liquid. You can bag it, freeze it, and use it as a flavorful broth for any soup. 

Roasted Tomatoes
adapted from David Lebovitz

about 10-15 medium-sized tomatoes
coarse salt and black pepper
about a tablespoon of thyme, rosemary, or summer savory (or a combination)
olive oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut up the tomatoes so that they are roughly golf ball sized.  Mainly just make sure that they are all about the same size so that they'll cook evenly.  Spread them on a large cookie sheet. Coat tomatoes with oil.  Generously season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with herbs. Do not add the garlic at this time.

Look away! They're hideous.
Roast tomatoes for 30 minutes. Toss in the garlic.  Roast for another 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have given up most of their juices. Turn off oven and let the tomatoes sit in the oven as it cools. Once they've cooled, it is fairly easy to remove the skins. Since the tomatoes kind of stick to the pan, you can usually just gently pull the skins right off of each tomato.  Don't worry about get the skin off of every tomato. If you're blending the tomatoes for a sauce, then skip this step. They can store in the fridge for a week or so, or sealed in a freezer bag for months. 

Pasta Sauce 

I blended the tomatoes and garlic together with a glug of oil and a small handful of fresh basil.  It was delicious, but I think a splash of cream would have mellowed out the sweetness a bit. Next time.

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