I try, as much as possible, to cook and eat seasonally. Seasonal produce is more flavorful, has more nutrients, and hasn’t traveled for miles thus increasing its carbon footprint. I also enjoy the anticipation of the first strawberries or asparagus or squash or tomatoes. But…sometime in the midst of winter I miss tomatoes. In an effort to satisfy this craving I tried a recipe recently posted in the New York Times. The author (Amanda Cohen from Dirt Candy) claimed that tomatoes don’t have to be eaten in season to taste good. Frankly I was dubious, but willing to give it a try.
These tomatoes were available at my local Trader Joe’s, organic but from Mexico. They look better in the picture, definitely more red than they did in the package. Eating one sliced in a sandwich was a ho-hum experience. Amanda’s method is to slow roast them in olive oil, with the added benefit of that lovely tomato flavored oil. It’s almost like making a confit. The resulting tomatoes can be used in a tomato sauce or chopped on a bruschetta.
Following is her method. I will be posting the a recipe for her Roasted Tomato-Coconut Sauce.
Roasted Out-of-Season Tomatoes
- 2 1/2 pounds of tomatoes (any kind)
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 slices of peeled ginger, about 1/8 inch thick
- 2-3 sprigs of basil or other fresh herb
- 5-6 cups of extra-virgin olive oil
- Heat oven to 275 degrees F (she recommended 250 degrees F but in my oven that was too low, every oven is different).
- If using large tomatoes, cut them in half. If using cherry tomatoes, leave them whole.
- Combine tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and basil in a baking dish that will hold the tomatoes in one layer.
- Pour over them enough olive oil to to reach almost to the top of the tomatoes.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for at least 2 hours, mine took an extra 30 minutes. The tomatoes should start to collapse and be showing some brown spots.
- Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and let the tomatoes cool. Drain the oil into a separate container. Refrigerate or freeze the tomatoes.
The tomatoes will last for a week in the fridge, the olive oil for about 2 weeks. For longer storage you can freeze the tomatoes. I made 2 batches and reused the oil. That gave it an even more concentrated tomato flavor.
And, what do I think? How were they? I would say that they will rival most good quality canned tomatoes. Cooking didn’t improve the color but it did concentrate the flavor. They needed a lot of salt, a touch of sugar, and a drop of lemon juice to round things out. Mid-summer tomatoes would be amazing, I will make several batches this coming summer to store in the freezer for times of cravings such as this. I imagine the olive oil would be even more flavorful as well.
On a bruschetta I paired a chopped tomato with ricotta (soft goat cheese would also be good) and an arugula salad dressed with lemon, tomato oil, salt and garlic. A drizzle of tomato oil completed it.
Dress the arugula salad with lots of lemon juice, tomato olive oil, garlic and salt. The tomatoes need all those flavor boosters. Baby kale would also be good here.