Perfect roasted tomatoes
August 5, 2011
This recipe is the starting point for so many meals in our house. Slow roasted, lightly seasoned with maybe a hint of chilli tomatoes become so sweet and concentrated that they never fail to garner compliments. Las t night I served these (as I often do) with a slab of baked feta and a dish of Greek olives as a start to a barbecue (we’ve been doing lamb with a Moro marinade on repeat all summer). Pita or fresh bread to scoop them up with the salty feta and it’s a combination made in heaven.
As always, I did a big quantity so there are lots left over for salads. You can add them to any really. They are especially good with cous cous or quinoa. I sometimes smash a handful and use them along with a glug of olive oil and a dash of balsamic to dress green salads. Add some olives – I especially like the wrinkly black Greek ones because their intense saltiness contrasts so well with all the gorgeous sweetness. Feta or goat’s cheese and maybe some scallions complete this but, like a lot of summer cooking, it’s a moveable feast.
Smash them to make the simplest pasta sauce. Basil is great with this too if you have it. Use them as a bed for any baked white fish – they make the blandest really sing. Again, olives or basil are great partners here. Fry up some garlic and chilli with prawns then add a handful of smashed roasted tomatoes and some chopped parsley for a really brilliant starter (served over a simple green salad) or pasta sauce. Add a few to a simple summer risotto say, with courgettes and/or broad beans. Sandwiches and wraps…as a base for cheese on toast topped with a few olives. It goes on and on. A stash of these (they’ll keep for 3 or 4 days in the fridge) and you’ll always have the makings of a meal.
The big secret to getting them right is time. Five hours minimum is what they need and more is even better. I usually do them at about gas mark 4 / 170 degrees and leave them til they are half their original size and much, much darker. You can’t rush them. Turning up the temperature will char them on the outside before they’ve concentrated all that flavour on the inside.So be patient start them in the afternoon if you want them for the evening. They don’t need any attention so you can leave them to it. It’s the kind of cooking I love – you’re in the garden (hopefully!) hanging out while dinner, well, cooks itself. Easy.
Any quantity of tomatoes – this week we all have the first of Marc Michel’s cherry vine variety but really any will do. If using regular sized ones – quarter them first.
A generous pinch of salt.
Herbs – oregano or marjoram are my favourites but thyme works well too.
A little chilli – this is optional but I do like a little hint of heat on mine – up to you.
Sugar – not necessary in the middle of summer when tomatoes are sweetest but at others times of the year when they’re not as good, it really helps to build that intense flavour.
Wash the tomatoes and place them in a roasting tin. I always try to keep mine on the vine because it looks really nice when you serve them. The tin should be pretty full though not overcrowded either so choose the size according to the quantity you’re roasting. Add a generous pinch of salt and sugar (if using), a smattering of herbs and a little chilli. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Place in the oven (Gas mark 4), sit back and let the magic begin. Enjoy.