Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Food: Slow Roasted Tomatoes

We had some unusual early-September weather this past weekend.  First it stood its ground like a provoked mid-July, presenting us with a scorching day, followed by windy, wet, and unpredictable storms (this was a bizzare way to kick-off college football season...with multiple game delays at multiple venues).  Then Mother Nature went for the "shocking the system factor," dropping the temps by 50 degrees (yes, I said 50) and giving us a day filled with dreary, cold, and gray cloud cover.  It was definitely not Labor Day picnicking weather in either case.  So like any sane person would do, on Saturday, when it was almost 100 degrees out, I decided I absolutely had to heat the house up by running the oven for hours upon end...just so I could make this sandwich.  Reasonable, right?  You'll understand once you try it.    

I had a ton of large green tomatoes when we left for a week in the Carolinas mid-last month, hoping they wouldn't turn bright red and rot on the vine while we were away.  But when we came back home, to my surprise, nothing was ripe yet!  So here I am, a week later, with a major stash of German beefsteaks, Cherokee purples, and Hillbillies.  I started digging through my recipe files and decided some of them should be roasted immediately; freezing for sauce and fresh tomato soup were to be saved for another day. 

When I made these slow roasted tomatoes, Jonathan said the house smelled like summer.  It was truly heavenly.  I liken the scent to an Italian grandmother's homey kitchen with a hint of garlic and olive oil and oregano mixed together with the sweet and juicy potency of a red ripe tomato.  If only it could smell like this everyday!

After what seemed like an eternity (we'd only been smelling them for half of a very hot day), when they were finally out of the oven, I served the tomatoes on toasted peasant bread with a touch of crumbled goat cheese.  And upon first bite you'll truly see, to quote my husband, that "these tomatoes are unreal."  I ate them three days in a row (one of those days for breakfast).  And if I ever had a restaurant, they would most definitely be on the menu (not surprisingly, the original source for this recipe is a restaurant).  So if you're looking for the perfect way to enjoy a ripe summer tomato, it is warmed by an oven with flavor condensed by hours of roasting.  Sometimes perfection is as simple as this.  

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Adam Roberts and Orangette

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 T Sugar
  • 1/2 T Kosher Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic Infused Olive Oil (if desired)
  • 2 T Dried Oregano
  • ~ 1 Dozen, Medium-sized Tomatoes, washed and towel dried
DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
  • If you're using smaller tomatoes, plum for example, slice them in half; Otherwise slice your tomatoes into thick slices (I used cherokee purple tomatoes cut into thirds)
  • On two baking sheets, drizzle enough EVOO to coat the bottom of the pan
  • Place your sliced tomatoes in one layer on top of the oil and then drizzle a little more oil on top (I found a touch of garlic infused oil on the top is a nice flavor enhancement)
  • Next, sprinkle sugar, salt and dried oregano over the tomatoes
  • Place the pans in oven and cook for 1 hour
  • After one hour, turn the tomatoes over, and cook for another hour
  • Turn the tomatoes a second time and cook for 1 final hour
  • Transfer to a pretty serving dish and serve alongside toasted crostinis (toasting is key so the bread doesn't get soggy)
  • These tomatoes go great with a little goat cheese, but you really don't need the extra flavor to enjoy them - they hold up just fine on their own 
  • Regarding storage, roasted tomatoes will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, but I highly doubt they'll last that long :) You can freeze extras too but will probably want to pop them back in the oven a little bit once you defrost them this winter.  I also like to drain off the oil the pan and store it in a jar in the fridge - it's great to add a flavorful drizzle to eggs or a soup, etc.  You get the picture.

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