I am sometimes certain that I wait all year for tomato season, you know, the way a more normal person might be excited for the Giants to get back to the field or eagerly anticipate whatever sleek and minimal trinket Apple has coming out this fall. But for me, it’s just tomatoes. I eat them on eggs, in sandwiches, cooked and raw in every possible format from paste to pasta to chili and seriously, don’t even try to bring me a cream cheese-schmeared bagel without a thin slice of tomato on it. Alex did once and let’s just say, it didn’t go over well. Poor Alex.
I love tomatoes so much that I even occasionally take part in the blasphemy that is “sun-dried tomatoes,” most of which are about as dried out in the sun as I am this week–unfortunately not the case for either of us. But lets talk about what sun-dried tomatoes aspired to be before their dreams were co-opted by food packagers and evil-minded chemists: tomatoes roasted slowly at a low temperature.
If you’ve never made slow-roasted tomatoes before, prepare to have your mind blown because they’ve got very little to do with the aforementioned packaged variety in all of the best ways: they’re so flavorful that you might think you think someone snuck into your oven and doused them in both vinegar and salt, even if you did neither. They also have just the right level of moisture, dry on the outside with some juiciness left within–no rehydrating needed here. They can transform even those freakily perfect supermarket grape tomatoes into heaven on a plate, but if you manage to get your hands on the real deal from a greenmarket, well, I hope you’re sitting down when you pop the first one in your mouth.
And what to do with them? Namely, anything. Dorie Greenspan uses hers as a pasta picker-upper, or stores them in the fridge covered in olive oil, laying them over chicken, salmon, tuna or mixed vegetables. Heidi at 101 Cookbooks puts them in salsa. And I put them… in my mouth. Or mix them with white beans or slivers of basil. Or in my mouth. Or in salad. But mostly in my mouth.
One year ago: Oh look, I was gushing over the exact same thing. I’m so predictable.
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
I know what you’re going to say: “You want me to turn on my oven in the middle of the summer for three freakin’ hours? Are you insane?” And all I can say is, well, yes, but also the oven is so low that I swear it won’t heat up your apartment in any noticeable or annoying way.
Cherry, grape or small Roma tomatoes
Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
Herbs such as thyme or rosemary (optional)
Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each cherry or grape tomato crosswise, or Roma tomato lengthwise and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to make the tomatoes glisten. Sprinkle herbs on, if you are using them, and salt and pepper, though go easily on these because the finished product will be so flavorful you’ll need very little to help it along.
Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes.
Either use them right away or let them cool, cover them with some extra olive oil and keep them in the fridge for the best summer condiment, ever. And for snacking.