You know, as much as a I give Brian a hard time over his tomato-aversion, I must admit that I don’t wax poetic about tomatoes myself. I like tomatoes, I think they are great burger or sandwich additions, but I am not the person who you’ll see munching on a salted tomato like it’s an apple. I like caprese (tomato-mozzarella-basil) salads, but I think I am in it for the cheese.
However, there is something to be said about a sweet tomato at its prime at the height of summer. Today is September 1 and, as much as we don’t want to admit it, tomatoes are going out of season and taking summer with them. Although I welcome and am excited for the pumpkin-spiced lattes, butternut squash risotto, and cranberries of fall, I try to hold onto and preserve the sweetness of summer as long as I can. Hence, the oven-dried tomatoes.
Sun-dried tomatoes of the grocery store, these are not. While I find that sun-dried tomatoes, even those kept in oil, have an unpleasant chew to them, these oven-dried tomatoes melt in your mouth, almost too quickly, leaving you wanting another one. These oven-dried numbers are also easy-peasy to make, very inexpensive and can be doubled or quadrupled according to your oven-dried tomato needs. I could easily find several uses for these – baked onto a pizza, added to a sandwich, an edible dish for a fritter appetizer, or mixed in an easy pasta (as we’ll see soon) – but perhaps the best way to savor the sweetness of summer is to just eat a couple standing by the counter in the kitchen.
This recipe really represents a basic guideline. Feel free to add dried herbs as you like – dried thyme or oregano would be nice – or even red pepper flakes. The low heat means your house won’t overheat with the oven on all day and the long cook time means your house will be filled with an awesome aroma for hours. Also, due to the time it takes to make them, it is worth making more than the 8 tomatoes, as your time requirement doesn’t increase when doubling or tripling the recipe.
8 Roma tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1-1½ tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 200 degree Farenheit. Cut the tomatos in half lengthwise.
Line the tomato halves on a half sheet pan, cut side up. Brush the olive oil onto tomato halves. Sprinkle the minced garlic, kosher salt and ground pepper and sugar on the tomato halves.
Place the half sheet pan in the oven. Roast for 6-9 hours. The tomatoes will lose a lot of their juices, shrivel up a bit and darken in appearance. Remove them from the oven and allow the tomatoes to cool on the sheet pan.
Use immediately, or keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If storing, make sure to include all the oil and juices from the pan in your container, they are delicious!