Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Total Tomato Transformation: Roasting Tomatoes for Big Flavor

Concentrated, sweet tomato goodness!
Got some gorgeous plum and grape tomatoes at the market over the weekend. They looked and smelled like they'd be nearly as delicious as local tomatoes in season. It is, after all, late May, and there should be good tomatoes coming from somewhere in the US, right? Boy, was I wrong. You cannot push Mother Nature.  The beauty was just skin deep; the plum tomato I added to my sandwich was bland, bland, bland. The the grape tomatoes were nothing to brag about either.

In the heat of Summer, I often roast a big pan of garden tomatoes until they are almost tomato candy. So, why not concentrate the flavors of these? So a little olive oil, a little garlic, and an hour in a hot oven and well, they sure are good. Actually, they're first-rate. Total Tomato Transformation. In sandwiches, in hummus, mixed into hot pasta or rice with a little cheese. The tomatoes I pick warm from the August sun are decidedly better, but if you tried to grab this dish away from me, I'd fight you for them. Might eat them all with a fork, right off the pan.

Note: I roasted both grape and plum tomatoes together, but it's easier to just do one type at a time. I did not add herbs as I wasn't sure how I was going to use the finished product and didn't want competing flavors.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

2-4 lb. of plum tomatoes
1 pint grape tomatoes, washed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 tsp kosher salt
optional: handful fresh rosemary sprigs or thyme sprigs

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray. Wash, dry and core the plum tomatoes, and place in a large bowl. Add the garlic cloves and the herbs if using. Add the salt and the oil and toss well. Spoon the plum tomatoes onto the prepared baking sheet and arrange  them cut side up.

Read for that hot, hot, hot oven.
Put the grape tomatoes in the bowl, toss in the oil and add to the front side of the sheet as you will remove them first.  Arrange the garlic cloves and herb sprigs so they are either buried inside a cut tomato or between them so they don't burn.

The little tomatoes are ready, but the big ones need more time.
Pour whatever olive oil and juices are left in the bowl over the tomatoes. Place in the oven  and bake for 20-30 minutes. When the grape tomatoes are starting to brown and char a bit in spots, carefully remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon. Continue to roast the larger plum tomatoes for another half hour to 45 minutes until they begin to get dark spots on top. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly and try not to burn your mouth when you can't resist tasting. Store in the fridge for about a week in a covered container.

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