Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Slow-roasted Sungold Tomatoes

I love tomato season. Absolutely love it. In fact, it may be the only time of the year when I truly enjoy tomatoes. Juicy, sweet and dense with the slightest tang, August is truly the month of tomato splendor.

Last year I had a terrible tomato year. I started all of my plants from seed, nurtured them, trained them and was delighted when the green globes began to form. That is, until late blight hit. Two weeks and loads of white fuzz and black blemishes later and it was game over, with hardly a harvest to speak of. This year was different. I chose to only plant blight-resistant cherry tomatoes and made sure to prune heavily to increase air flow. Perfection- at the height of the season I was getting at least a pint a day of golden tomatoes.

Sweet and juicy with a delicate pop, this tomato burst onto the scene with gusto.  I used them in salads, salsas, sandwiches and sauces. Golden enchilada sauce? Why not. Sungold, Peach and Avocado Salsa? Yes please. But my favorite might be the simplest preparation: Slow-roasted Sungold Tomatoes.

With a low heat and long sauna, tomatoes release their juices and their natural sugars, resulting in a dense, dank, caramelized mess. Perfect topping for a Zucchini Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Garlicky White Beans and Kale. Or sitting atop a summer corn polenta drizzled with balsamic reduction. Even better aside a nice glass of red wine.

You could be a purist and stick with straight up tomato. I like to add in some sweet onions, leeks or fennel if available, for a nice twist. To finish it off, try a squeeze of fresh lemon and handful of herbs- cilantro, basil or rosemary all sound nice.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Serves 6


5 lbs. tomatoes- heirloom, cherry or whatever you have
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large onions or leeks, large dice
1 head fennel, large dice (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
generous pinch of black pepper
juice of half a lemon
Chopped herbs (basil, cilantro, rosemary etc.- optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice larger tomatoes into quarters or eighths, and cherry tomatoes in half. Toss with garlic, onions, fennel (if using), oil, salt and pepper. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and transfer mixture. The best you can, arrange tomatoes cut side up.  
Place in preheated oven and turn on convection fan, if you have one. Bake for one hour, remove and stir. Repeat process every hour until tomatoes are broken down, liquid has evaporated and flesh is sticky but moist, about 2-4 hours. Remove from oven, toss with lemon juice and herbs and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. 

Enjoy immediately, store in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for a welcome winter treat. 

Relax. Eat Well.

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