Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jewels in the Garden - Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

We are coming into major tomato time around these parts.

Last weekend we were away, and when we got back, I found a ton of ripe fruit on my cherry tomato plants.  Thing is, from now for at least a month, I'll probably get this much every other day.

I love fresh cherry tomatoes right off the vine.  So does child number two.  But there comes a time when you get kind of full of them.  Plus, I like the idea of saving little bites of summer for those winter months when the only tomatoes you can find are barely worth paying for.  Trust me, fresh garden tomatoes, or fresh from the farmers' markets, are not even in the same ballpark as that junk.  So, I stumbled across a method that makes these great tiny bursts of flavor even sweeter, more delicious.  Slow roasting.

This year, I have 5 different cherry tomato plants.  Yellow pear (obvious), Sungolds (very pretty orange color), Juliets (which I read about in a foodie lit book and have been lusting over for months), Sweet 100s (my go-to cherry tomato), and black cherry (redish-purpley-green loveliness).

Take your tomatoes, give them a rinse (I pick them straight into this great stoneware colander that my friend's dad made, and that makes this step even quicker!), and then slice them all stem to stern in half.  Preheat your oven to about 250 degrees or so.  225 works too.

Toss them on a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment, in a single layer, open sides up.  Add a couple of cloves of garlic in there too.

Then, drizzle over some olive oil, and hit it with some salt and pepper.

They should look gorgeous and happy.  Put them in that low oven and leave them there for about 3 hours.  You want them to shrivel up, but not too loose all their juice, or burn.  Time will depend on how many tomatoes and how juicy they are.

There you go.  Slow roasted tomatoes.  They are sweet pops of flavor, good for sauces, on sandwiches, as a condiment, or just for snacking on straight.  As for the garlic that has lent its scent to our tomatoes, don't let that go to waste either!  Spread it on bread or a cracker, or with some meat or veggies.  It too gets sweeter than it originally was.  Sometimes I wish that you could make people sweeter as easily, but DCFS frowns on sticking children in your oven.

As for storage, these keep well in a jar with enough olive oil to keep them covered.  I also put bunches on them into small BPA-free plastic zip bags and freeze them for later.  Go figure, me freezing something.

Even if you're not a huge fan of tomatoes, you might like these.  Also, if you really want tomatoes and it's not a great tomato time of years, this method can make those supermarket tomatoes bearable until you can get your hands on the real deal.  I know that 3 hours is a long time for one of my recipes, but seriously, you don't have to sit there and watch them roast.  Go and live your life.  Just come back in a few hours.  Or set your oven timer to shut off the heat, if you're lucky enough to have the technology to do so.  It will also work on bigger tomatoes, but you'll probably have to adjust the cooking time to compensate for the larger, juicier masses.

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