For a taste of summer come winter, put aside summer tomatoes now, by slow-roasting the tomatoes for a long time – yes, a long, long, LONG time, no measly couple of hours. After testing many batches of slow-roasted tomatoes, I finally fixed upon the perfect combination of time and temperature, oil and herbs, a collection of tips and techniques. Slow-Roasted Tomatoes are something really special ... don't let the tomato season pass by without a batch or two or three. Or four.
'Low and slow.'
Good cooks know the formula works for summer barbecue and Thanksgiving turkeys. But tomatoes?
Easy-to-find recipes for roasted tomatoes range from 200F to 400F and 45 minutes to eight hours. But two years ago, I became obsessed with discovering the perfect time and temperature for tomatoes. Truth be told, it took 17 batches to fix on 12 hours (yes, hours, yes, a half day) and 200F.
The right tomatoes are important. Only a meaty tomato can withstand a long roast. Visit CJ’s Produce at the Kirkwood Farmers Market for locally grown Cascade and Roma tomatoes.
Herbs are important but dried herbs are preferable. My favorite blend is Italian seasoning and fennel seed.
A touch of oil encourages caramelization. Salt boosts flavor and pepper adds a measure of heat.
But without question, the only requirements are temperature and time. Low and slow.
Once a few pounds of tomatoes are put aside, the real magic is in the cooking. Every single dish I’ve made with slow-roasted tomatoes has been a stand-out. Think tomato soup, spaghetti sauce, lamb stew, eggplant Parmigiana, homemade pizza, fast pasta suppers and rich lasagna.
Think delicious. Think low and slow. Good cooks now know, it is, indeed, the way to go.
Oven time: 10 - 12 hours
Makes about 2 cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons mixed dried herbs (Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, sage or thyme)
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 4 pounds meaty tomatoes (Cascade or Roma)
- Unpeeled cloves of garlic, optional
- Freshly ground pepper
Set oven to 200F. Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and seasonings.
Halve the tomatoes lengthwise, leaving the stem socket on one side so after roasting, the skins slip off more easily.
Rub each cut side in the oil and herbs, then arrange cut-side down in a single layer, butted together. Tuck in garlic cloves. Sprinkle tomato tops with salt and pepper.
Roast for 10 to 12 hours. If roasting two trays at once, swap racks after 6 to 8 hours. Let cool. Slip off and discard skins. Use within 2 to 3 days or freeze.
How to Slow-Roast Tomatoes
• Photo 2 - Drizzle baking sheet(s) with olive oil and dried herbs. I've tested more oil, it really isn't necessary for the slow-cooking time releases so much flavor. Dried herbs stand up better to the long time in the oven. To my taste, fennel is essential.
• Photo 3 - Halve the tomatoes, cutting beside not through the stem socket. This makes it easier, after roasting, to remove the skins.
• Photo 4 - After cutting a tomato in half, rub the cut side down in the oil and herbs, then begin to arrange tightly in a single layer.
• Photo 5 - Fill the tray. Tuck in unpeeled garlic cloves if you like. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• Photo 6 - This photo was taken after only 7 hours. The first time you roast tomatoes, check them every hour or so since oven temperatures (and tomato moisture) do vary. I've never had trouble but know people who've burned their first batches. I usually roast tomatoes overnight, putting them on at supper, pulling them out of the oven before starting work in the morning. The house will smell like a tomato factory!
• More - Slip off the skins, this is slightly easier when they're warm. Be sure to work over something to collect the roasted tomato flesh and the juices. I pack each tray's yield into a freezer bag, squeeze out the air and then freeze flat.
• Now the fun part - on my food blog for vegetable recipes called A Veggie Venture, see all the many recipes using slow-roasted tomatoes.
Meet the 'Tomato' Man
aka Craig Sanders from CJ's Produce at the Kirkwood Farmers Market in Kirkwood, Missouri, my home town
More Tomato Specialties
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