A few years ago, I read the book Culinary Intelligence, by Peter Kaminsky. He told the story of how over the years working as a food writer, he had eaten his way to obesity and number of other health issues. In this book, Kaminsky documented how he devised a plan to eat well and lose the extra weight.
His philosophy was to maximize the flavor per calorie, making sure that he was able to enjoy everything he ate. The book included some recipes, including one for Oven-Roasted Tomatoes. He wrote about how he would buy fresh tomatoes in season, roast them and store them in the freezer so he would always have fresh tasting tomatoes to use throughout the rest of the year.
Having followed this recipe several times, I know the outcome is amazing. The slightly caramelized tomatoes, offer a smoky hint of sweetness and can even contribute a sense of umami. That being said, preparing the tomatoes to be roasted is time-consuming and messy. Fortunately, every time I use some of them in another dish, I focus on how good they taste and not on the effort they require.
Time: 30 minutes, plus 3 to 4 hours roasting
5 pounds plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar (I use turbinado sugar to maximize the flavor)
1 tablespoon fleur de sel
3 sprigs fresh thyme
10 cloves unpeeled garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or as needed.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper, and set aside.
2. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds. Transfer to cold water, peel, and cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and pulp, and place cut side down on pans. Scatter sugar, fleur de sel, thyme and garlic cloves evenly over tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 225. Roast tomatoes until shriveled but still moist, 3 to 4 hours. Allow to cool. Discard thyme sprigs. Transfer tomatoes, garlic and pan liquid to covered containers. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.
Yield: 3 to 4 cups
The last time that I decided to make these, I found a variety of tomato at the Farmers Market called Roma Giant. Each fruit weighed nearly 8 oz. and the interior cavities were small, so they held very few seeds. I hope to find tomatoes at the market at least once more this season, so I can make a few more that I can freeze for use in the months to come.