tomato time

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Tomato season in New England runs a little later than other parts of the country. Ours are just beginning to come in–at least, the cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen–but most wait for August. The good news is we keep harvesting tomatoes well into the fall.

I would love to tell you we are going to have a bumper crop this year, but our tomatoes are having a hard time. They are still growing and there is fruit on the vine, but not in the quantities we had hoped, so the picture is from last year. Still, it’s a good time to talk about tomatoes.

A fair number of our cherry tomatoes get eaten as we pick them. They are like little pieces of candy on a hot summer afternoon, and then a good number of them get eaten fresh on, well, pretty much anything I can think to put them on. And still there are more. I have found two ways to cook them that make them last and taste even better; both of them take a little time, but not a lot of attention.

tomato confit

The traditional meaning of confit has to do with slow-roasting meat in its own fat (like duck confit), but the idea has expanded to include vegetables as well. As one article I read put it, confit is to deep frying what smoking is to grilling: low and slow versus fast and furious.

Here’s what you need:

enough cherry tomatoes to cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish
enough olive oil to come up about half way on the tomatoes
unpeeled cloves of garlic
fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil)
salt and pepper

You can also add:

sliced jalapeños
peeled shallots cut in half longwise

Preheat the oven to 275°.

Cover the bottom of the dish with whole cherry tomatoes, then add the garlic, jalapeños, and shallots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay the fresh herbs over the top. You don’t need to take anything off of their stems. Drizzle the olive oil over everything until it comes up a little over halfway on the tomatoes.

Roast for about 2 hours, until the tomatoes look wrinkled but are not bursting. Set the pan aside and let it cool. Squeeze the garlic out of its peel and put it back in the confit.

Put in top of everything from pasta to steaks to chicken to you name it.

I store mine in pint-sized mason jars and keep them in the fridge. Use the oil from the pan to cover them when you put them in jars.

Here’s the second variation.

oven-roasted tomatoes

The two biggest differences between this recipe and the one above are the temperature and the amount of oil you use. Oh–and you cut the tomatoes this time. My recipe is adapted from this one (and if you don’t know Smitten Kitchen, you need to.)

The ingredient list is similar to the recipe above.

enough cherry tomatoes to cover a baking sheet when halved
olive oil
fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil)
salt and peper

Preheat the oven to 225°.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the tomatoes in half longwise (slice where then stem was) and arrange them on the baking sheet so they are close together. Get as many in there as you can. Drizzle with olive oil (you don’t want to drown these) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you want a little kick to them, add some crushed red pepper. Lay the herbs across the top. One again, you don’t need to pull them off of their stems.

Roast them in the oven for at least three hours. I use the cook timer on my stove, set if for three hours, and then forget about it so that they cool in the oven. They will resemble sun-dried tomatoes, but will have a little juice still left in them.

They make a great pizza topping, are wonderful on salads, and taste pretty damn good all on their own. You can also put these in pint-sized mason jars, or other airtight containers. If you do, cover the top with oil. You don’t want to drown them, but a little bit of oil will help them last. Refrigerate them once they cool, if you haven’t eaten them all.

Happy tomato days.

Peace,
Milton

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