At least in your kitchen it can! I have, every year for the last 20 somehow stored tomatoes for the long bleak winter. One way is to blanch, peel, chop and freeze in freezer bags, for soup and sauce all winter long. Another way I have tried several times, and did this year, is oven roasting them until they are almost dry, and then dousing with olive oil and stashing in the fridge or freezer.
This method preserves and intensifies the ripe flavors, and allows you to use them in several types of dishes in the future. Honestly, I have taken them out, pulsed them or chopped them and put on crispy toast for a fast crostini snack. The oil is delicious after they have steeped for a while, and you can even use it to make roasted tomato pesto. I’ll add a recipe for that at the end of this post, but before we get there, we have to roast the little suckers!
My last post was the Egyptian tomato salad, and I used a gorgeous gaggle of cherry tomatoes someone had given me. In case there weren’t enough, I bought a big basket of ripe organic tomatoes, so I could supplement if needed. But, the little cherry tomatoes were plenty, as a matter of act we are still eating them 3 days later! The larger tomatoes were really ripe, and I wasn’t about to put them in the fridge, so I decided to go to my roasting option. Directions are below:
- Large ripe tomatoes (as many as you can find)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (may need more, depending upon how many tomatoes you do)
- 1 cup (or more) of extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 375º Farenheit.
Slice the tomatoes in 1/4 inch slices, from stem to bottom. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat/silicone mat. Don’t use aluminum foil, it will react with the acid in the tomatoes and make them taste metallic. If you don’t have parchement or Silpat, lightly oil the sheet pan so they don’t stick when roasting.
Arrange the tomato slices in rows, they can touch, but allow some room so they don’t stick together. Lightly sprinkle with some of the salt, have a light hand here, you’re going to intensify the flavors by roasting them, so too much salt will ruin them. Allow to stand for a few minutes for the salt to dissolve, then put them in the oven. I usually do two sheets at a time, so the wait time is perfect in between sheets.
Roast them in the oven for an hour, but check at 50 minutes. You’ll see that they are drier, and carmelized a little. If not, roast for another 10 minutes. They should look like this:
Allow them to cool for 20 minutes. Once they are cool, find the container of your choice, I usually just use a Ziplock bag, pile them in and cover with the olive oil. Give them a stir or a squeeze to be sure the oil is evenly distributed. You can keep these refrigerated for a long time, and if you freeze them, they will last for a year. To use them, you can make a roasted tomato tapenade.
Roasted Tomato Tapenade:
- 1 cup roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 cup olive oil (you can use the oil you stored them in, YUM!)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped (plus one cut in half for rubbing the bread)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 10 green olives, pitted and chopped roughly
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1 baguette or crusty bread, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
In a blender or food processor, add all the ingredients except the bread and hold back 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Pulse and process the mixture until it’s uniform in color, and there are no large chunks of anything. The texture you’re looking for is thick enough to coat the bread, with some liquidness to it. As you process, add more of the olive oil, you may need more to reach the proper consistency.
To serve, lightly toast the bread, and rub them with the half garlic to coat lightly. Spoon the tapenade on the bread and enjoy!
This is an intense flavor, so you don’t need a great deal of it. You can also top it with a little piece of cheese, mozzarella or some Parmesan, or even some feta! I have also used this to toss with hot pasta, and Parmesan, it’s delicious. This is a versatile recipe, you can change out the garlic for some onion and hot peppers, or change the herbs to basil or oregano, or a combination of both.
Every time you eat this over the winter, you’ll think about summer and the sun on your face!