It’s late summer harvest season and the garden demands hours each day, so naturally, I start to question my decision-making abilities:
Do I really like to grow food?
Do I really need a garden to keep me happy?
Why does the autumn garden clean-up seem like so much more work than the spring start-up?
Why did I think that twenty tomato plants were a grand idea back in March when I was sowing their seeds?
But for me, the main reason to have a garden is for tomatoes. Tomatoes maintain star status in the produce world and host one of the most interesting plant biographies in Western food culture. The tomato’s history is one of many myths, wild claims, and confusing origin stories. Were tomatoes once considered poisonous? Why were they called love apples by colonial Americans? I will reserve my interest in tomatoes’ cultural history for another article.
On to the recipe…
I was inspired to re-invent this traditional method of preservation because most of the recipes I viewed were boring. This recipe is all about end-of-the-season abundance: tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs. The aroma is amazing while in the oven, and I love the idea of pulling these out on a cold winter’s day to make a pot of comfort food.
Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, Onions etc.
- Ripe tomatoes: small cherry tomatoes cut in half or larger tomatoes, diced, seeds removed
- Cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- Onions, chopped
- Sweet or hot peppers, sliced thinly
- Handfuls of dried basil & oregano (I now use dried as it retains more flavor)
- Salt & pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
Set oven to 275°. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat (yes, this is necessary – the acid from tomatoes and vinegar will interact with metal sheet pans).
Try to use tomatoes that are similar in size or chop tomatoes to a uniform size. I remove the seedy pulp. You can leave the pulp if you want, but I find the seeds to be bitter.
Peel garlic cloves, smash with chef’s knife blade and then cut into small pieces. Mincing the garlic and letting it sit for 15 minutes increases its medicinal properties. I love roasted garlic so I also toss in peeled whole cloves.
Chop onions and peppers.
Place everything into a large bowl and stir to blend.
Splash a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the tomatoes, stir until thoroughly coated but don’t drench the veggies. If you add too much liquid the veggies will stew rather than roast.
Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Stir in dried herbs. (Try other herb blends like cumin, oregano, and coriander)
Place mixture in a single layer on the sheet.
Bake in a 275° for 2-3 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the tomatoes. You will need to check them after an hour. They can easily burn, especially if diced in small pieces and become black crunchy tomatoes – for which the only use is compost.
When done, cool completely on the sheet and then transfer to a plastic bag or container, label, and freeze.
It’s tomato season so just repeat.
How to Use Roasted Tomatoes
I freeze quart-sized bags of these roasted tomatoes. No reason to thaw before use; break off the amount you want and add to the recipe. I use them in pasta sauces, pizza toppings, chilis, stews, stir-fries, bruschetta, and soups and they are a main ingredient in my Kale Cakes.