Here it is the beginning of Fall and tomatoes are at their peak. Whether you garden or just want to take advantage of the vine ripened beauties while they are available, the question remains, what to do to preserve their summer freshness as the threat of colder weather looms large. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but we all know it is inevitable so “get over it!” One way I have found that brings out the sweet goodness of this fruit is roasting. This slow preparation has many applications. They can be used in sandwiches, pizza, omelets, stews, soups, sauces and as I will demonstrate today, make a delicious salad. You can use them fresh from the oven or freeze them for future use.
With a little enhancement they come out carmelized, and delicious. They require a little prep but not so much as to cause you to run from the kitchen mumbling something about purchasing them in a can. I promise!
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Cut the Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place tomato halves on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and a small amount of balsamic vinegar.
- Mince 2 cloves of fresh garlic and sprinkle over the tomatoes.
- Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sugar.
- Place in the oven for 2 hrs.
They are ready to use for whatever purpose you want. I made a delicious salad with some and then saved the rest for sandwiches. Since my garden runneth over, I plan to make a couple more batches to freeze for later. The salad recipe is simple, fresh and really tasty. This is what I did.
- Make a bed of arugula on a platter. Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil.
- Layer the roasted tomatoes on top.
- Scatter shards of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or cheese of choice over the tomatoes.
- Drizzle with a little more extra-virgin olive oil.
- Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Scatter the top with fried capers (see note).
Note: To fry capers, heat olive oil in a small skillet. Drain capers and dry on a clean towel. Place capers in hot oil and cook until they pop and are crunchy. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon. Drain on towel to remove excess oil. Remember capers are salty so adjust seasoning accordingly.
Another salad idea would be to alternate roasted tomatoes with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and top with ribbons of fresh basil making it more Caprese style. Finish it off with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
As I often say, you are limited by your imagination. The carmelization and smokiness this slow roast process produces enhances almost any preparation. I often purchase fire-roasted tomatoes in a can (specifically, Muir Glen brand) during the Winter when my stores from the Summer have run dry. They work especially well in Mexican and Southwestern foods but can be used in almost anything.
I know you will find numerous ways to incorporate oven roasted tomatoes into your recipes. Care to share?