Slow-roasting is the thing to do with tomatoes this year. (Kelsey can attest to this, having posted about them earlier this summer!) In Canada, tomatoes come into their own in September, weighing down the branches that support them in my back yard and overflowing market stands. I find roasting them much easier and less finicky than canning them, although you could store plenty of roasted tomatoes in a nice big glass Mason jar. Meatier varieties like Roma or plum work best for roasting because of their dense flesh, and the fact they contain fewer seeds and less moisture to begin with. Whatever variety you choose, you can roast your tomatoes low and slow or fast and hot; the lower temperature and longer cooking time eliminates their acidity and brings out their natural sweetness.
Roasted tomatoes, their cel structures already broken down, are perfect for freezing – cool completely and store in Ziploc freezer bags or other containers. You can take out only as many as you need, thaw and add to sandwiches or salads for a quick taste of summer in the middle of winter.
Make sure tomatoes are fully ripe and washed before roasting; if you like, toss a few (or a handful of) garlic cloves onto the pan to roast along with them. Cooking them down will make them far easier to store; in the short term, scrape roasted tomatoes (oil and all) into a mason jar to keep in the fridge and dip into for a week or so. I find myself sticking a fork in for a bite of tomato several times a day, as if they were pickles.
Roasted Tomatoes Two Ways
Roma or plum tomatoes (as many as you want to roast)
olive or canola oil
salt and pepper
To slow roast your tomatoes, turn the oven on to 250°F; to roast them more quickly, preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters lengthwise and spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss around with your hands to coat the tomatoes.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 4-6 hours (at 250°F) or for 1 hour (at 400°F). Cool and store (along with the juices and oil that has collected in the bottom of the pan) in a sealed container in the fridge, or freeze for up to 4 months.
What to do with them:
Fingers: Eat them straight up, open faced on thinly sliced baguette or garlicky crostini, spread with soft goat cheese or not.
Sandwiches: Layer ‘em on.
Soup: add to warmed chicken or vegetable stock with a splash of cream and puree until smooth.
Pasta: Chop and add to pasta with crumbled goat cheese or feta, olive oil and torn fresh herbs.
Tomato Sausage Skillet: Cook lean sausages in a heavy skillet with chopped onions and roasted tomatoes until the sausages are cooked through and the onions are caramelized.
Muffins and Quick Breads: Chop and add to cheese bread batter, biscuit dough or cornbread batter before baking.