Yes, fresh tomatoes are but a dream in frozen Northern countries right now. But here in the Middle East, hot house tomatoes are abundant and surprisingly inexpensive. I had six fat ones on my kitchen counter, just at the cusp between very ripe and over-ripe. I’ve often made slow-roasted tomatoes with big juicy ones like those. But I didn’t want to keep the oven on all day. The solution: tomato confit – a truly slow food recipe and just right for a day spent at home. Like preserved lemons, these deliciously caramelized tomatoes take time but not too much trouble, and add bright flavor to many foods when they’re done.
Skillet Tomato Confit
Any number of tomatoes, as long as they fit in your skillet when halved.
Olive oil to cover 1 inch of the skillet bottom
1sliced shallot for every 2 tomatoes
1 sprig of rosemary
salt and pepper
Cut tomatoes in half and cut out seedy gel inside. Salt and pepper them liberally.
Warm olive oil in the skillet. Place tomatoes, cut side down, in oil. Scatter slices of shallot around tomatoes.
Bring oil to a boil, then lower heat to lowest possible – use a flame-tamer if needed to distance skillet from flame. Cover tomatoes with a pot lid and cook for 2 hours. There will be lots of liquid.
Remove pot lid. Throw rosemary sprig into oil. Let tomatoes continue cooking till liquid has evaporated and tomatoes are thoroughly cooked. Don’t move them around much during cooking or they will become mushy and disintegrate into tomato paste. It will take up to 6 hours for all the liquid to evaporate and only the original oil to remain around the tomatoes.
How to eat the confit?
- Bruschetta: toast slices of French bread and rub a cut garlic clove over each toasted slice. Top with a confit tomato half. Eat.
- Pasta: stir some confit tomatoes into your next bowl of pasta, with plenty of softly sauteed garlic and some chopped herbs like basil, parsley, or scallions.
- Fish: gently smear confit tomatoes over fish before cooking it. Suggestion: place fish fillets in baking pan; drizzle with olive oil and juice of 1 lemon. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Smear confit tomatoes. Bake at 350 F – 180 C for 20 minutes.
- Chicken: same as with with fish, using thinly-sliced breast meat.
- Salad: marinate confit tomatoes in vinegar and garlic with all their olive oil. Stir to break up the tomatoes and top a leafy salad with this chunky paste.
- Appetizer: serve the tomatoes warm, just as they are, on a bed of ribboned lettuce.
More slow-food recipes from Green Prophet: