Recipe: Savor Summer in Winter with Roasted Tomatoes
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, local politician, mother of two, and author of the new cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region.
Two years ago, I set out to answer what seemed to be a simple question. Of all of the foods to be preserved in the late summer, tomatoes might just be one of the most useful and essential. But how? I took every suggestion that people offered. I have canned my tomatoes. I have pureed them raw and frozen them that way. I have made sauce and frozen that, too. Hell, I froze whole raw tomatoes because someone told me to.
Most of these methods failed. Gross, separated tomato slush. Enough mess to make me want to die in the sea of tomato juice in the kitchen. Bitter bags of useless mush.
I think that I’m finally ready to name my favorite tomato preservation method: roasting.
You might want to eat your roasted tomatoes off the tray and have your way with them then and there. But if you can wait, you will thank yourself in a few months. The miracle of all this is that if you roast them with garlic and herbs, it’s sauce in a bag. How’s that for convenience food?
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line one (or two if you have a lot of tomatoes) baking sheets with parchment paper. Don’t skip this or you will curse me as you scrub your baking sheets for hours.
Core the tomatoes and cut each in half. Lay them out on the tray, cut side up. Scatter about 8 garlic cloves (peeled and whole) on each tray over the tomatoes.
Top with several fresh sprigs of whatever herbs you might have available (oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil will do). A quick snow shower of salt and pepper. A tiny glug glug of olive oil. Roast for three hours. Or a little more or a little less.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Scrape the contents of the entire pan into one or two freezer bags. Label and throw into the freezer.
To make sauce in December, defrost the bag in the refrigerator. Sautee a chopped onion if you like. Throw the contents of the bag into the pot. Cook for a bit and season to taste. If you’re picky about tomato skin, pass the sauce through a food mill. This will be the best sauce you’ve ever had. Unless you’ve already had mind-blowing tomato sauce, in which case it will match it. — Reprinted with permission from Eatingfromthegroundup.com . All text and photos copyright 2008-13 by Alana Chernila.