These are one of the most versatile things I keep in the freezer. They can be chopped up for a quick tomato sauce over pasta (see earlier recipe for ravioli), put onto a homemade pizza, or added to a salad. A few chopped and added to sautéed vegetables truly “elevates” the dish (as the fancy cooks say) and they can even be tucked into a sandwich. They take a few hours to make, but it is mostly hands off so–as long as you plan to be at home–you can do something else while a pan of tomatoes transforms into something truly heavenly.
Make sure you keep the oil in the pan with the tomatoes–Sarah and Kate used to fight over who got to wipe up the excess with a piece of crusty bread.
This recipe can be increased exponentially depending on your oven size and patience. It is my adaptation of one that appeared years ago in Saveur.
5 lbs. of the freshest, tastiest tomatoes you can find (they don’t have to be pretty and this will transform even somewhat lackluster tomatoes, but the better they start out, the better the result)
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into 4-5 slices each
dried herbs of your choosing (basil and thyme are among my favorites, but this ingredient is up to you and optional)
2 t. salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1 – 2 T. sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup of good quality olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet (a half sheet pan works well, if you have one, but anything with a rim will do) with aluminum foil.
- Wash the tomatoes, remove the stem if needed, and cut in half across the middle (stem end on one end, bottom on the other).
- Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil onto the baking sheet. Place the tomato halves into the oil and roll the bottom around to coat.
- Distribute the slices of garlic on top of the tomato halves.
- Sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes with herbs (if using), salt, pepper, and sugar.
- Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes.
- Pour the remainder of the olive oil over the tomatoes.
- Place in the oven to roast for 2 to 4 hours depending on the size of the individual tomatoes (you can speed this up a bit by raising the temperature of the oven to 375, but then you really have to keep an eye on the tomatoes to make certain that they don’t burn). At the one hour mark check the tomatoes. if they are not releasing their juices, press down gently on them with a spatula being careful not to get squirted in the process. Return to the oven and roast until they look like the picture above.
- When they are cool, package in plastic bags or other containers and freeze, keeping the oil with them. Then sop up the remaining juices with a piece of good bread!