are far too exceptional to be ignored.
Like so many of you, my loyal readers, I love tomatoes…
Those fresh, glistening, red ripe (or purple or green or yellow), juicy, heirloom or home-grown, meltingly delicious tomatoes.
The kind of tomato where you make a spectacle of yourself when you take that first succulent, amazing bite and the juice and seeds runs down your chin, your hands and arms.
But you don’t care what others think…
the taste transports you and you are in a tomato-induced Zen-like state.
Over the winter and even now into this transitional months between our frigid Midwest winters and the first tomato harvest, there are nobeautiful and luxurious tomatoes available anytime soon. The first of these perfect and delicious tomatoes don’t appear until here in our farmers markets until at least June.
What to do until then…?
I have eaten my way through the winter stash of my canned and frozen heirloom tomatoes, but my supply was now woefully down to two remaining jars. I feel like a junkie needing a fresh tomato fix...yikes…!
Then I came across this recipe from one of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa shows that I happened to catch on the Food Network. She slow roasted Italian Plum tomatoes. I never give these a first-look, as they are so pathetic and pale looking and grainy and flavorless to taste. The recipe states that this process of slow roasting concentrates the tomato flavor, which makes sense. I wish I had thought about this much sooner in the winter.
My local produce store has a special on locally grown hydroponic Italian plum tomatoes for fifty cents a pound. So it seemed a very good time to see if slow roasting would transform these pale pink orbs into the true tomato comfort that I was seeking.
For the small cash outlay of $2.00 plus a bit of olive oil, salt, sugar and pepper that I had already had on hand in my pantry, I was willing to give this tomato experiment a spin.
Roasted Plum Tomatoes
or how to have a summery tomato-taste while waiting for summer…
(adapted from a recipe from Ina Garten)
plum tomatoes (a dozen or more)
fruity first-pressed olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh Rosemary (optional)
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Half the plum tomatoes lengthwise, and remove the seeds and cores with a spoon.
Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer.
I placed several sprigs from my Rosemary plant in between the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. This lightly perfumes the tomatoes, but not with an overwhelming flavor.
Lightly drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes.
Sprinkle with sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Roast for 2 hours or until the tomatoes begin to very slightly caramelize.
Let the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.
The color of these pale tomatoes became rosy red and their flavor was concentrated and deliciously tomato-y and nearly like they were kissed with the summer sun.
Now you have some tasty tomatoes on hand for a wonderful caprese salad, to top any salad, pasta, pizza or just to add their tomato-y goodness to any dish of your choice.
I used mine in a guacamole, added to a tuna salad, for a tasty topping on buffalo mozzarella as an aperitif and tossed with brown rice gluten-free pasta and spicy chicken sausage with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of grated Parmesano Reggiano...yum...
You imagination is your limit…and to be honest these are better than anything that you can purchase pre-made. For me, these tasty roasted Italian plum tomatoes certainly calmed my intense craving for those summer sun-ripened beauties.
Sure, they are not euphoria-producing as those first juicy, sun-warmed summer bites.
But I contend that they are a luscious substitute until then, and will feed the tomato-addict within.
I store my roasted plum tomatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These keep well for up to 2 weeks, but mine never last quite that long…