Sunday, August 26, 2012

slow-roasted tomatoes

I'm going to make a confession, here.  I haven't spent much time at my stove this summer.  I can't tell whether that's marvelous (I've hiked past waterfalls!  Read in the sun!  Broached ocean waves!) or shameful (I've neglected my recipes... and perhaps my writing... and all of you).  You may recall that the same kitchen neglect happened last summer in that cluttered, itty-bitty sublet of mine, but just so you won't think that this is becoming my modus operandi, I'd like to point out that that was for a different reason entirely.  That kitchen was... well, rustic.

In any case, some momentous event has finally reeled me back in like an un-nibbled fishing lure, and that event is the dawning of tomato season.  This is one of my favorite recipes from a few years back, when I stayed up late with the oven on, sweating with the heat.  Here, they're roasted slow with a few cloves of garlic, and herbs, if you like, whose smell wafts throughout the oven and barely perfumes the tomatoes through some kind of delicious osmosis.  The oven brings out deep savory undertones, and the fruit becomes complex, almost jammy, a perfect accent for a leafy August salad.  Or a plate of spaghetti with pesto.  Or on top of a hamburger as a kind of outspoken, big-personality ketchup.  Or tossed with white beans, sausage, and perhaps a basil.  You get the idea.

Oh, I almost forgot about the garlic.  The tomatoes are the point, but those sweet-pungent roasted cloves are a bonus.  I love recipes that come with a bonus.  Whirring the soft garlic, together with olive oil, in a food processor makes a dressing for a roasted-tomato salad or pasta dish that just begs for your invention.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Tomatoes, as many as you like
Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
Olive oil
Herbs such as thyme or rosemary (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Heat your oven to 225°F. Slice each tomato so that each slice is no thicker than three-quarters of an inch wide.  Arrange the tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, just a few drops on each slice, not so that they swim.  Sprinkle on the herbs, if you are using them, and, if you like, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Bake the tomatoes in the oven for three to four hours, checking on them occasionally. The tomatoes should still be soft to the touch, shriveled but not completely dried up.  Store them in the refrigerator covered with olive oil.  Use the tomatoes in pasta, on burgers, tossed with white or green beans, on salads, or however you can think of.  Eating them plain as a snack, which is just dandy, too.

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