06 October 2010

How to take advantage of cheap tomatoes

These days, you can find a lot of late-season tomatoes hanging around. They don’t have the luscious appeal of July tomatoes—alas, they’re edging toward pink—but they sure are cheap. What to do? Roast them.

This method concentrates and sweetens the tomatoes’ flavor. Obviously they taste even better when they’re delicious to start with, but roasting makes even iffy tomatoes taste good. It is also extremely easy.

So if you will be in the house for about three hours at a time, give roasting a try. Do a lot, and freeze them for use throughout the dreary winter. Hurrah!

Roasted Tomatoes
(taken from here)

a passel of tomatoes
olive oil
garlic, black pepper, and whatever else you want

1) Preheat the oven to 325. Wash tomatoes and slice in half lengthwise. You don’t need to make the pieces small. I suppose if you have absolutely enormous tomatoes you’ll want to quarter them. (I had half a bushel of irregular Romas: go for those, or maybe plum, because they have the highest flesh-to-juice ratio.)

2) In a very large bowl, toss halved tomatoes with some olive oil, just enough to coat lightly. Arrange them in a single layer, skin side down, in a big roasting pan coated with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with salt; if you want, add garlic cloves and other fun stuff. I didn’t add any extras because they will be going into a range of recipes.* I’ll add seasoning when I use them.

3) Roast for two hours, then check to see how they’re doing. They will probably need more time, maybe up to another hour. But check them fairly frequently so they don’t burn.** Burnt tomato is nasty. (Do I speak from experience? Guess.) Your roasted tomatoes are done when they’re nicely blistered, not browned, and shriveling up into little parcels of goodness. Go ahead, taste them. See if you want more roasting: nobody’s stopping you. Just please avoid that burning part.

4) Let tomatoes cool and then either refrigerate or freeze them. This is the first year I roasted tomatoes, and it worked for me!

*Spanish rice. Stromboli (already did this, was fantastic). Couscous salad. Chicken cacciatore. Chili. Spaghetti sauce. Tomato soup. Hummus. I packed some in a tall glass jar with garlic cloves and olive oil, and I have a feeling I’ll be eating those chopped, on a thick piece of sourdough bread.

**If you do them on both oven racks, as I did because I had so many tomatoes, you will want to switch racks halfway through. (Actually I had to roast them in two installments, on two different days. Because I’m crazy and always do things in huge batches. Whee.)


  1. What a great idea! I've also done them on the barbecue. There's something about dry heat that just brings out the sweetness in even the most hot-housey tomato. I love the idea of making them and freezing them!

  2. I must do this - I've seen it recommended a few places now and I keep buying tomatoes at market because TOMATOES! they will be gone soon and it's roots and greens all winter.