Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roasted

 

I haven't put up much of the summer harvest this year. It seemed a little futile given that I already had too much to pack as it was... But I cannot resist roasted cherry tomatoes, and the jar would be long gone by the time the cartons were shipped off and I was on my way to another continent. Worse comes to worst, I could have eaten them on the plane!


Roasted cherry tomatoes are a sublime method of preserving these little nuggets of summer. Vine-ripened cherry tomatoes are already bursting with flavour, but the roasting just concentrates them even further. A cross between fresh-picked and sun-dried, these tomatoes are sure to win over even had-core tomato haters (I know! Hard to believe such people exist, but my brother is one such creature.) Best of all, if the tomatoes are kept submerged in oil, they (technically) keep for a really long time.

Although any size tomato can be roasted, they should be dead-ripe and cut down to about the same size as a half cherry tomato.  It will shorten the time in the oven, allowing you to savour them all the more quickly. You can also add any flavouring you want. My personal favourites are thyme, oregano, cumin and garlic. I occasionally add basil when I am faced with a glut.


Roasting tomatoes is easy peasy, and the resulting food is so lovely it will turn even a simple meal into marvellous fare. There is no recipe here, just a few guidelines. Once the tomatoes are cut up, set them on a bed of whatever herbs and spices you choose, along with a generous amount of slivered cloves of garlic. Lay out the tomatoes so that the cut side is facing up; season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a good amount of oil. Olive oil is packed with flavour, but regular vegetable oil will remain liquid in the refrigerator, so use half and half to get the best of both. Make sure that every thing other than the tomatoes are kept under oil to prevent any scorching. The pop in a warm oven (150°C/300°F) for about an hour.


When the tomatoes are wrinkly, but not crispy-dry, they are ready. Let them cool before putting them away in a jar. As long as the tomatoes are completely covered in oil, they should keep for about a month or more. Should you want to keep them for longer, you should add about a teaspoon of vinegar (the tastier, the better) to each 500mL/1 pint jar, before processing them for 15 minutes in a hot water bath. Or you can freeze them indefinitely.

Roasted tomatoes are lovely poured over hot pasta, roasted meats or pan-fried fish. You can also blitz them in a blender to make a pesto to spread on toast. When all the tomatoes have disappeared, you will likely have some flavoured oil left-over: this oil is scrumptious drizzled into a salad dressing or even used as a cooking oil.





Bon app'!



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