Cook's Illustrated (July/August 2015)
We're really craving a BLT right now.
Toasted wheat bread. Crispy bacon. Peak-of-summer tomatoes. Mayo. Maybe some basil or pesto thrown in there. Heaven.
But our tomatoes aren’t quite there yet. We’ve been getting tomatoes from our CSA for a few weeks now. They’re good, but they’re nowhere close to what we’re craving. You know what we're talking about: that peak-of-summer tomato, bursting with flavor, that you want to eat standing over the sink, tomato in one hand and a salt shaker in the other.
We dog-eared this recipe for the best way to roast tomatoes as soon as we saw it, knowing that the tomato onslaught was coming on our way.
We thought this pocket of summer -- when local tomatoes are good but not great -- was an excellent time to try out this recipe. So we went to the farmers market, where we’ve recently fallen in love with the “seconds” bin. The tomato seconds are in really good shape are only 99 cents per pound. We grabbed a few pounds and got to roasting.
We’re big fans of roasting tomatoes as a way to preserve them. We typically make an Easy Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce, then freeze the sauce for later use. These sauces are gold in the winter, when the paucity of produce can have you longing for summer days.
Cook’s Illustrated experimented with different versions of this recipe to find the very best way to roast tomatoes, and we love them for it. It’s a simple take, with sliced tomatoes, olive oil and herbs, first blasted on high heat, then finished at a lower temperature.
The result is indeed the best roasted tomatoes we’ve ever made. (It's Cook's, so we never really doubted the outcome.) We’ve been throwing them into salads all week--they’re caramelized, a bit sweet and give a big pop of flavor wherever they're added.
So here’s one item on our August bucket list that deserves a spot on yours, too: Get a bunch of tomatoes, roast them with this technique, and stash them in the freezer. That is, if you can keep from eating them all once they’re out of the oven.
Let’s get to roasting!
MAKES 1 1/2 CUPS
Note from Cook's Illustrated: Avoid using tomatoes smaller than 3 inches in diameter, which have a smaller ratio of flavorful jelly to skin than larger tomatoes. To double the recipe, use two baking sheets, increase the baking time in step 2 to 40 minutes, and rotate and switch the sheets halfway through baking. In step 3, increase the roasting time to 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
3 pounds large tomatoes, cored, bottom 1/8 inch trimmed, and sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange tomatoes in even layer on prepared sheet, with larger slices around edge and smaller slices in center. Place garlic cloves between tomatoes. Sprinkle with oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt and season with pepper to taste. Drizzle oil evenly over tomatoes.
2. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove sheet from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and prop open door with wooden spoon to cool oven. Using thin spatula, flip tomatoes.
3. Return tomatoes to oven and continue to cook until spotty brown, skins are blistered, and tomatoes have collapsed to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, 1 to 2 hours. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Discard garlic and transfer tomatoes and oil to airtight container. (Tomatoes can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
GREAT USES FOR ROASTED TOMATOES
Savory-sweet roasted tomatoes can punch up countless dishes:
TOPPINGS: Sandwiches, crostini, pizza, polenta, scrambled eggs
MIX-INS: Frittata, quiche, pasta, deli salads, bread dough
DRESSING: During roasting, the oil picks up concentrated flavor that makes it great for whisking into salad dressings; drizzling over meat, fish, vegetables, or pasta; or using as a dip for crusty bread.