From mid-September through early October, the house was aromatic with a gentle tomato scent from 15 batches of Slow-Roasted Tomatoes.
Each batch was a little different. I played with oven temperature, oven time, a little oil and a lot of oil, fresh herbs and dried herbs. I even experimented with Fast-Roasted Tomatoes but quickly returned to these.
The inspiration came from StephenCooks, whose site includes the warning, "If you're looking for something quick here, I'm sorry but most of the dishes I cook take far too long to be called quick." His ideas about slow-roasted tomatoes are here.
Slow-Roasted Tomatoes do take awhile from start to finish but hands-on, only about 10 minutes to start, 10 minutes to finish. That fits my definition of quick-n-easy ... when it's worth it, which I find slow-roasted tomatoes to be ... very much worth it. Recipes so far include Tomato Bread Pudding IV, Pasta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Tomato, Eggplant & Garlic Pizza and Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup. But the freezer is stocked so there will be many more in the winter months to come. (9/06 And so there were ... see all the recipes using slow-roasted tomatoes.)
The great news is that there's hardly any going wrong with slow-roasted tomatoes, all the variations are good. But the "recipe" below, after much trial and error, is the one that'll transform this house into a tomato-roasting factory for years to come.
RECIPE for SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOES
Time to table: 8 - 24 hours
Makes about 2 1/2 - 3 cups
- For a photo tutorial, see Slow-Roasted Tomatoes at Kitchen Parade, where I turned my experiments into a column about the joys of roasting tomatoes in late summer.
- Choose Roma-type (that is, meaty vs juicy) tomatoes. I use Cascades recommended by the Tomato Man).
- Do double batches to maximize oven time. Each batch consistently used about 20 tomatoes, about 4 pounds purchased for $3.
- Set oven to 200F.
- Spread 1 tablespoon olive oil (which I found plenty but important) directly on baking sheet (no need for parchment).
- Sprinkle with dried herbs (dried turned out more flavorful than fresh) including 1 tablespoon fennel (though 2 tablespoons too much) and after that herbs that seem right, including Italian seasoning, basil, sage, oregano, thyme.
- Sprinkle the oil/herbs with salt and pepper (salt's especially important!).
- Halve the tomatoes (when cutting, leave stem bit on one side vs slicing down its middle, makes it easier to remove skins later; skin blemishes are okay since will come off, anything penetrating into flesh should be removed before roasting).
- Place cut-side down in a single layer on baking sheet, rubbing in oil a little bit when arranging. If you like, tuck in unpeeled garlic cloves.
- Sprinkle again with salt and pepper.
- Roast 10 - 12 hours (9 too few, 13 too many). (9/06) The first time you roast tomatoes, check on them every hour or so. Otherwise you might end up with charred creatures.
- Let cool. (9/06) The tomatoes are slightly easier to peel when still slightly warm.
- Slip tomato skins off, collecting tomato meat and juices. Transfer to freezer bags. Remove the air from the bags and seal. Freeze. (9/06) To thaw, place in a bowl to collect the juices that seep from the bags.
ALANNA's KITCHEN NOTES
Batch 1: Roma-type tomatoes with generous fresh herbs, olive oil on bottom and top. Ten hours at 175F. Yield 2 1/2 cups. Meaty texture, good flavor. Used in Tomato Bread Pudding IV.
Batch 2: Roma-type tomatoes with piles of fresh herbs, olive oil on bottom only. Seventeen hours at 175F. Yield 2 1/2 cups. Still meaty, very good flavor. Used in Eggplant Parmigiana.
Batch 3: Roma-type tomatoes with 1 tablespoon each of dried herbs, including fennel seed. Twenty hours at 200F. Yield scant 1 cup. Very intense flavor, some smaller tomatoes got too dry, nothing really to salvage. Licorice flavor intoxicating. Used in Pasta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes.
Batch 4: Roma-type tomatoes with olive oil on bottom only, 2 tablespoons fennel seed, pepper, salt. Twelve hours at 200F. Likely too much fennel, missed melange of other herbs. Might have missed the second application of oil, as well. Yield a generous 3 cups. Packed in freezer bags. Used in [Stay Tuned].
Batch 5: Roma-type tomatoes, whole head of garlic cloves with 1/4 cup olive oil (mostly on bottom, some on top, think this was more than ever before but first time measured) seasoned with fennel, Italian seasoning and basil, salt and pepper. Twelve hours at 200F (actually 45 minutes at 350F, 2 1/2 hours at 0F, 9 hours at 200F). Yield 2 cups. Great caramelized juices, concentrated tomato flavor. Packed in freezer bag. Used in [Stay Tuned].
Batch 6: Roma-type tomatoes with NO OIL. Sprinkling of fennel, Italian seasoning, basil, salt and pepper. 15 hours at 200F. Yield 2 cups. Meaty, flavorful. Miss the mouth-glisten of olive oil a tiny bit but VERY good. Packed in freezer bag. Use in [Stay Tuned].
Batch 7: Roasted with Batch 7 on top in rimmed baking sheet, Batch 8 on bottom with standard cookie sheet. Roma-type tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon fennel, 2 - 3 tablespoons fresh sage and rosemary, salt. 12 hours at 200F. Yield 2 cups. Flavor more grassy but not unpleasant. Used in Roasted Tomato, Eggplant & Garlic Pizza.
Batch 8: Roasted with Batch 7 on top in rimmed baking sheet, Batch 8 on bottom with standard cookie sheet. Roma-type tomatoes plus 1 regular tomato (a test) with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon fennel, bits of dried lavender, bits of dried orange peel. 12 hours at 200F. Yield scant 1 cup. Very dense, some quite dried perhaps from being on bottom? perhaps due to different baking sheet? Large tomato way too juicy, not really roasted at all. Frozen and used in [Stay Tuned].
Batches 9 & 10: Batch 9 on rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack, Batch 10 on top with flat baking sheet (worked fine). Batch 9 seasoned with fennel, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, Batch 10 with fennel, oregano, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil. No parchment, worked fine. 8 hours at 200F. Tomatoes more 'warmed' than roasted. Packed in freezer bag. Used in [Stay Tuned].
Batches 11 & 12: Both seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roasted 11 1/2 hours. Packed in freezer bags. Used in [Stay Tuned].
Batches 13 & 14: Decided to try faster roasting, see Fast-Roasted Tomatoes.
IN THE OVEN NOW Batch 15: Much preferred slow-roasting, returned to this for last batch of season. Seasoned with 1 tablespoon olive oil, fennel, sage and thyme. xx hours at 200F. Packed in freezer bag. Used in [Stay Tuned].
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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