We’re up to our eyeballs over here.
When stress levels push me into a sloth-dom that includes staying in bed past 7:00 am, eating ice cream for breakfast and considering skipping all forms of physical exercise, nothing grounds me back to reality and a happy space than cooking in the kitchen. So when a few weeks ago I needed to leap out of my funk, I snapped up a ridiculous box of tomatoes at our local farm stand without a single clue of what I’d make. The tomatoes just spoke to me, and said they wanted to be my friend and absorb all the housey angst I’m feeling. I sliced them in half and nestled them together on a little stream of olive oil. I brought their friends in to join the party.
Simply Organic’s Grind to a Salt is not just salt: it’s also mustard, celery seed, garlic, onion, chili peppers, and black pepper. All organic, and hanging out like wallflowers to join your rocking food party. It’s awesome on everything, but particularly delish on summery-ripe tomatoes.
Aged balsamic is a must, due to the burnt good-ums that land on the tray after three hours of baking. The charred, balsamic, candy-crack nibbles demand immediate inhalation once the tomatoes come out of the oven.
Throw on a crap-ton of chopped fresh garlic and fresh thyme…
…give ’em a drizzle of honey, then bathe the suckers in 3/4 to a full cup of extra virgin olive oil. It sounds like a lot of oil, but all that garlicky tomato goodness snuggles around in it, and you’ll want to take a bath in it yourself. Throw them in the oven and go multitask.
After two hours, take a peek at your little babies. Depending on their size, they’ll be ready around 2.5 or 3 hours.
They cook down, shrink up, intensify in tomato-ness, and become almost candy-like. They’re delicious next to a piece of baked fish, roasted turkey, on a salad, or simply topped with goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. They’re a good sun-dried tomato substitute (arguably better), can be frozen, or chopped up for a spread on some toasted sourdough. Their depth takes soups to other dimensions. They’ll jack up your pastas and casseroles to entirely new levels. I speak from experience, as I’ve tried all the above and these little nuggets make EVERYTHING taste better.
If you’ve got a tomato bounty but don’t feel like spending hours on canning or making sauce, give this method a try. I’ve already made three batches. THREE! And I just can’t get enough of them. It’s worth the 15 minutes of prep and 2-3 hours of baking for such versatile goodness.
Come back next week to see how I used my first batch in a ta-die-fer sauhsage paaasta dish.
Just channeling the umpteen years I lived in Chicaaaaahgo. 🙂
- 12 tomatoes
- Salt and Pepper grinder
- 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3T fresh thyme
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Preheat your oven on the "bake" setting at 350 degrees.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then with parchment paper. Drizzle the lined pan with 2-3T of olive oil.
- Cut the tomatoes in half across the equator, unless you use Roma or San Marzano tomatoes. Then cut them in half across the stem so they lie flat.
- Place the tomatoes on the oiled sheet pan.
- Season the tomatoes with your favorite salt and pepper grinder. Plain kosher salt and cracked pepper also works just fine.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes with the garlic and thyme.
- Carefully drizzle a bit of vinegar, then a bit of honey on each tomato.
- Being careful to not let the garlic and thyme "slide" off the tomatoes, slowly drizzle the olive oil over and around all the tomatoes.
- Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake them for 2 hours. Check them for slightly charred tops and shrinkage - they should reduce at least half in size and the tops should be slightly charred. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, this can take anywhere from 2-3 hours.
- Remove and cool. Store for 4 days in a covered dish in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and later used in soups, sauces, casseroles, etc.