Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Bright bursts of red blanketed my kitchen counters last week. There was just enough extra space to set up the coffee machine and lay out a cutting board for any food prep. The insanity started when I purchased 75 pounds of Roma tomatoes. Equivalent weight to the boy next door. Ambitious plans to be sure.
Most of my tomatoes go to making sauce. This time I pulled out about 20 pounds to be oven-roasted.
Whichever way I choose to preserve my tomatoes, my first step is to wash and sort them immediately. Those with blemishes are used right away. The remaining beauties are laid out on tea towels to further ripen. With this batch, I had them laying about for four days.
When I roast tomatoes, I cover my baking sheets with parchment paper. The Romas are cut in half lengthwise, placed cut side up, dribbled lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I will often do double duty and throw in a few cloves of garlic to roast since the heat is on.
I use the convection bake cycle on my oven and set it to 200ºF to 250ºF, depending on my personal schedule. A lower temperature means they could roast overnight, using hydro at off-peak hours. I prefer the lower temperatures because it dries the fruit more slowly, avoiding any charring of the skin and flesh before the drying cycle is complete. Another side benefit is that it doesn't heat up my kitchen. You will see other recipes that roast temperatures in the 300's and 400's with success. It really depends on your desired outcome.
How long they are in the oven really depends on the size of the fruit and your preference for 'juicy'. At the lower temperatures, expect it to be at least 5 hours. As they near completion, check on them every half hour.
I store my oven-roasted tomatoes in the freezer in zip-lock freezers. Always on the ready.
Oven-roasted tomatoes are a spectacular hit of flavour on a sandwich. It pairs well with goat cheese and avocado. I also use them in quiches, tarts, tartines, pizzas, omelettes, pasta dishes, soups, stews and curries. Did I mention they go well as a pesto on warm melted brie?
What is your favourite way to use them?