Monday, March 30, 2009

Winter Tomatoes

There's nothing better than fresh summertime tomatoes from the farmers market. I am anxiously awaiting the warm weather for this reason alone. That's not to say that supermarket tomatoes found in the winter and spring should be ignored. There are some yummy ways to utilize the plum (Roma) and grape tomatoes you see on the shelves right now.

Plum or Roma tomatoes are those egg-shaped tomatoes that have few seeds, and make great sauces. Grape tomatoes are those cute little ones that usually appear in salads.

Plum tomatoes: Make a Roasted Tomato Sauce for pasta and pizza.

  • 3 lbs of plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced into half-rings
  • 2 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 5 cloves of garlic (peeled, but left whole)
  • 1/2 tsp of dried thyme, or 1 tsp of fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 425. On a jelly roll sheet or large roasting pan, place the tomatoes, onion, carrots, garlic and thyme. Pour the olive oil across the ingredients and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out the veggies on the pan in a single layer, and make sure all the tomatoes are cut-side down. Roast for about 45 minutes - 1 hour, until veggies are tender and the tomato skin is starting to puff and blacken. Remove from the oven, and use a set of tongs to pull off the steamy tomato skins. You can just discard the skin. Transfer everything from the pan to a blender, with the little hole left open in the lid for steam to escape. Cover the hole with a tea towel and pulse until smooth, but still a little chunky. Add about a tbsp of balsamic vinegar for flavor if you want it, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Store extra sauce in the fridge or freezer.

Grape tomatoes: A Tomato Confit make for a yummy side or a topping for meat and fish.

  • One pint of grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Kosher salt and crushed pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients in a large skillet, cover, and place over medium-low heat. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and the skin has come loose. Mash a little bit with the tip of a spoon, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, uncovered, until the tomatoes have the consistency of chutney.

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