Right around the third surprise March snowstorm in Colorado, I start daydreaming about shorts weather and fresh produce, longing for the days when I can step into my backyard and harvest the first tomatoes of the season. Every year we’ve planted tomatoes in our gardens, we’ve managed a good enough haul that we can share with friends and still have our fill of the tangy fruit. The past two years Cameron has grown our tomato plants from seed, starting them in our basement in the spring and transplanting them at the end of May when a freak snow storm is less likely, and we’ve been surprised by how well they’ve produced despite the sometimes extreme weather in our neck of the woods.
When the last week of August rolled around this year, our tomato plants, drooping with green fruit, finally edged over into the pinks and and pale reds that promised tomatoes from the yard for weeks to come. Since then I’ve made a couple of batches of salsa and eaten enough tomato-topped salads to get me researching other preparation methods to preserve this “taste of summer” a little longer. I didn’t need to look long on the Internet to uncover numerous recipes for oven-roasted tomatoes, a juicier take on the sun-dried tomato but that can still pack incredible flavor and texture.
If you hate wasting fresh food as much as I do, you, too appreciate easy methods for preserving some of your tomato haul. Below you’ll find a recipe for Slow-roasted Cherry Tomatoes, a great way to use excess tomatoes while they are at peak ripeness. After they cool, you can keep the tomatoes in a container in the fridge and use within a week. You can also carefully pack freezer bags with cooled roasted tomatoes and save them for the dead of winter when you’re aching for some sunshine and outdoor sandals.
However, while I will always prefer a seasonal tomato over a winter tomato from the supermarket–a sad, mealy affair best left in the produce bin unless you’re looking for bad tomato date material,–if you want to make winter tomatoes work for you in your cooking, I highly recommend applying this recipe (with adjustments to ingredients) to a batch of slow-roasted halved Roma tomatoes, which I’ve incorporated successfully into tart and pasta recipes.
Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
– 1.5 lbs cherry tomatoes
– Salt to taste
– 1/2 tsp sugar
– 3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl toss the tomatoes, salt, sugar, and oil. Place tomatoes on the baking sheet, and then place in oven in 45 minutes, or until the skins start to shrivel and just split. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.
If you’re not planning to use the batch in a recipe immediately and are refrigerating them, keep timing in mind so that you can either warm them or allow them to reach room temperature before using in a recipe.