Oven Roasted Tomatoes

16 Sep

Last year was the first year we did this, but it turned out so well we decided to do it again, and do enough we would have enough roasted tomato sauce for the whole year. Luckily we were able to get a couple of boxes of really nice heirloom tomatoes to do it with. The box we got this week we specifically looked for these wonderful yellow heirlooms, that when fully ripe are kind of striped/washed with pinkish orange, and when you slice them open have a red heart in the overall yellow fruit. They have a sweet, lower acid flavor that is really nice. If your used to store bought rock like tomatoes, these will either give you a revelation in the flavor of tomatoes, or you will hate them, lol.

I’m a little tempted with these yellow ones to do a light roast, just to cool off some of the excess water in them… But fully roasting kind of caramelizes them a bit and gives them a richness that is really wonderful. Quickly processed in the Cuisinart, they become a simple and very tasty spaghetti sauce. I’m gonna try these yellow ones with some lemon basil.

The box was a mix of several different heirloom varieties, including one I think is called Green Zebra, though these are mostly rather smaller than the green zebras we grew at home for a few years. The fruit really is a striped green round little fruit. At full ripe they stay firm and the ground behind the darker green stripes gets a kind of yellows chartreuse color to it. Slightly tart, with a nice firm but juicy texture, these are again, about as far from the typical store bought under ripe tomatoes as you can get.

There is another really nice mostly larger tomato, with a beautiful dark red almost maroon color, with dark green shoulders. These have a kind of classic rich heirloom type tomato flavor, and should make some really nice sauce roasted. I didn’t see any in this box, but the box we got last week I swear had some that looked like the classic knobby irregular Brandywine type tomatoes. We saved one for hamburgers, and it was a toss up which I liked better, the juicy sweet yellow ones or the richer brandywines.

Anyway, we need to get these roasting. I set the oven to 450, pretty hot. Luckily it’s a gray, cool day out and the kitchen could use warming up. Next I give the tomatoes a quick wash.

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You can see the yellow ones on one side and the green shouldered ones on the other. Nummy…

Now quickly core the top out, it’s woody and doesn’t make for good sauce with these

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Slice ’em in half and lay them out on baking trays. These are nice big aluminum ones that barely fit in the oven, lol. This box fills two of them, with a dozen or so tomatoes left over for salads and whatnot.

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You can see I’m segregating the yellow ones in one tray, and the red ones in the other. I want to make some yellow sauce, with the lemon basil, so decided to make it easier and segregate the trays a bit.

Incidentally, if you want to save seeds, now is the time to do it. See the jelly filled cells around the outside of the fruit, once you cut them in half? Simply stick your finger in the cavity and scoop out the jelly with the seeds in it.

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I’ll show you in another post how to clean these fairly easily. And notice, this is seed from one of those beautiful red hearted yellow ones. Wish I knew the names of these, but the grower doesn’t remember what they are. Oh well, we got a really good deal from them, so I’m happy.

Ok, so once you have the trays full of tomato halves, sprinkle them lightly with salt. The salt helps draw the moisture out, so you get a nice roasting rather than just sewing them in their own juices. Some recipes recommend you remove the pulp as I mentioned above to get the seeds and that jelly out, to reduce the moisture so they roast better. Honestly, I’m lazy and besides, the seeds have a lot of nutrients in them you would loose that way. If you do decide to remove the pulp, reduce the time you roast them considerably.

Now for the garlic… I also got fresh garlic at the market for this. For each tray, I use about a medium sized head of garlic.

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This ended up being a little more than half of what I needed. But then, I like a lot of garlic, and these roast along with the tomatoes for a really heavenly flavor. Smash the whole cloves of garlic with the side of a wide bladed knife or cleaver

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Which makes it easy to remove the skins, though you may still need to clip off the woody base of the bulbs, and trim bad spots out.

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Course my chop these cloves

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Sprinkle these randomly over the tomato halves. If you are gonna be eating these as roasted tomatoes, you might want to be more picky about how they look, but if your gonna munch them up into sauce, no need to be too picky about it.

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Incidentally, last year at this point I added herbs- fresh thyme and oregano. The thyme did really well, but I didn’t have any to add this year. I wish I had gotten some, and maybe found some rosemary too. Basil I don’t like to cook that long, but I will add it to the sauce as I jar it.

Next drizzle the tomatoes with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You don’t need much of each, just enough to lightly splash them a bit

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Now throw them in the oven at 450 f and wait for them to roast down. I set the timer at an hour, but really you have to watch and see. You want the tomatoes to loose most of their moisture and just start to brown around the edges. Ideally, the juices at the bottom of the pan should start to thicken and you may see the corners of the trays burn a bit, but the fruit will be nicely concentrated roasted tomatoes. Mmmmm, can’t wait…

Ok, after an hour, this is what they looked like:

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You can see they are starting to brown a bit, but the juices are still kind runny and the fruit is more stewed than roasted. I’m gonna leave em in there a bit longer. I’ll check every 15 minutes or so to see when they are done. In the meantime, I’ll get the can ing stuff ready so I can jar them up while the fruit is still hot.

After an additional half hour, I decided to take them out. Ideally the juices would be getting a little thicker, but they are starting to char on the top, and I don’t want that to turn into burnt tomatoes, lol.

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Aren’t those yellow ones pretty? Ok, now straight into the Cuisinart… I use a pair of tongs and a wide flat spooks to scoop em up and throw em in.

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Plop em in the Cuisinart with the steel blade, and white them up a bit

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As I said, the first batch is yellow sauce, lol.

Oh, and this juice in the bottom of the pan? I think I am gonna try it as a soup base tonight… Getting that time of year.

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I like tomato sauce that’s a little chunky, so I try not to purée the tomatoes, just chop up a bit. Now for jars, and we are done for now, lol…

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Two quarts of yellow, and one more red tomato sauce. Could probably use some more, but that will have to wait for next week.

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