Tomatoes are still, mercifully, quite readily available. Though we hate to think about it, this won’t always be the case. In just a few short weeks, tomatoes—at least the good, locally grown varieties—will be gone on winter hiatus. It always seems to come too soon, and it always somehow seems to take us by surprise. In order to combat those first painful weeks of tomato-less-ness, we thought we’d give you a recipe for extending the period of tomato goodness.
Basically, you slow-roast tomatoes with some oil and garlic and herbs, until they get fragrant and wrinkly and almost candied. It’s a great treatment for end-of-season tomatoes: the roasting sweetens and intensifies flavour which might otherwise seem a bit faded. Kept in the fridge these tomatoes will last a few weeks; put them in the freezer and you can enjoy them for three or four months.
Come a blustery day in February, you’ll be very glad to have planned so far ahead.
We made our confit with the very last of the decent cherry tomatoes we could find but you can use this method for any tomato you happen to have around. There are countless ways to use the confit once you’ve made it (besides snacking out of the jar, which we’ve found ourselves doing a bit more than we should): toss with pasta and goat cheese for a 10 minute dinner, spoon over steamed or pan-fried fish to make an instant sauce, toss with other roasted vegetables or cooked grains (rice, quinoa, wheatberries, etc.) for a hearty salad with rich, earthy undertones. The oil the tomatoes are packed in is grand, too: it’ll take on a hint of tomato sweetness, and is fantastic in salad dressing or for pita-dipping.
Roasted Tomato Confit Recipe
We’ve intentionally kept this recipe open-ended with respect to quantities: you can do this just as successfully with a half-kilo or a half-bushel. Keep in mind that the tomatoes will shrink an awful lot, so however many you think you want: double the amount, and you should be more or less on target.
- olive oil (lots)
- salt and pepper
- a few cloves of garlic
- a handful of fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F.
- While oven is coming up to temperature, rinse and halve your tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and lay them out flat, cut side up, on cookie sheets or in roasting pans. (You don’t want them piled on top of one another as this will inhibit caramelization: if you’ve got too many to fit easily roast the tomatoes into batches.) Throw in the garlic cloves (no need to peel them), and strew the thyme about as well.
- Roast the tomatoes until they are soft and golden brown at the edges, stirring every ten minutes or so to avoid sticking. Depending on the size and quantity of tomatoes this may take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours.
- Remove tomatoes from the oven and let them cool. Slip the garlic cloves out of their skins, and pick out the thyme stems (the leaves will have likely fallen off into the tomatoes, which is exactly what you want. Pack the tomatoes, along with the garlic cloves and any accumulated oil and juice, quite tightly into glass jars. Top the jars up with additional oil so that the tomatoes are completely covered.
- Tomatoes can be kept for a couple of weeks in the fridge or for several months in the freezer.