Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Okay, the woman herself, Chadya or Jacque, as I know her, recently did a post on roasted tomatoes. So, why another? Because this style of roasting is a bit different, the tomatoes are slow roasted at 225 for 8-9 hours. That's right, HOURS!!! The flavor is much more intense, similar to sun-dried tomatoes and when covered in good olive oil, can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

The tomatoes I used were organic red and yellow slicing tomatoes, grown by a farmer about 12 miles from my house. I got them at my local Food Co-op, which is where I buy pretty much all of my produce. I would rather buy local produce, in season, especially tomatoes. Who wants a tomato in January, pale, bland, insipid? So, the next best thing is either can, which I cannot be bothered to do, sun-dry or slow roast. I have had success freezing the tomatoes, but they must be covered in good olive oil and I cannot stress the "good" part enough. You do not have to spend a fortune for extra virgin olive oil, just use something that you would cook with and you will be set. About the only difference after freezing is the tomatoes become a bit mushier, but since they are already fairly mushy after roasting, this is really a non-issue.

Wash and dry tomatoes well, then get out your cutting board and have at it. Slice in half, then place cut side up on a baking sheet. Make sure you use one that has sides as you will be pouring olive oil over the tomatoes and a flat sheet just will not cut it. Make sure there is about 1/2 inch between tomatoes, then drizzle with oil. I like to mince garlic and fresh thyme leaves to top them with, just gives added depth of flavor. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and grated fresh black pepper then place in the oven. I like to do two sheets at a time, then rotate every other hour so they roast evenly.

Be prepared for the entire house to smell heavenly; garlic, thyme and tomatoes slowly roasting is a scent I now relate to the end of summer. This batch took about 8 hours to cook. You can tell when they are done by how the sides have wilted inward and the tomatoes are looking pretty wrinkled on the sides. After they have cooled for a bit, the tomatoes are ready to taste. Take a small bite, feel the crunch of the garlic and the savory tomatoey taste, then right before you swallow, the most intense rush of tomato flavor explodes in your mouth! I can taste it now, so rich and almost sweet, you literally cannot eat just one. I must have had at least four before I could bring myself to stop, at least so I could take a photo. These beauties have been used as a topping on toasted French bread, topped a divine pizza recently made but forgot to take a photo of in my haste to eat, as well as been eaten straight from the bowl. Once you have put them in a container and covered with oil, being in the fridge will make the oil congeal, so just take out how ever many you want and let come to room temperature then enjoy. I think I will have the last two pieces of pizza and enjoy my little bit of summer's bounty.

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