Melted Tomatoes: Act Now and Prevent the Winter Blues
And last summer, well, last summer I realized that I was wrong.
That’s not to say that I’ve stopped eating fresh tomatoes like they’re apples. When the first tomato of the season ripens I stand among the towering plants bursting haphazardly from their cages, their wild, twisting limbs laden with green fruit, and I sink my teeth into my long-awaited prize. Then I pass the dripping tomato to Greg who is patiently waiting by my side, beaming with pride. (I’m pretty sure that eating the first garden tomato of the year without your spouse is grounds for divorce, but I’ve never dared to verify it.) It’s my favorite rite of summer: the savoring, the sharing, the reward for months of patience and hard but pleasurable work.
Admittedly, that first bite into pure unadulterated summer is hard to beat. But what if there was a way to make those juicy tomatoes taste even better? Yes, better. And what if that way not only improved on perfection but gave you a means of preserving your treasured harvest long after the first frost settles on your withered tomato vines?
I give you the Melted Tomato, a.k.a. the Roasted Tomato, or as I’ve come to think of it: my winter salvation. Roasting the tomatoes concentrates their immensely satisfying flavors and adds a bonus–a sweet, almost caramel note that you can only get when tomatoes are roasted. I know, I know, I had you at caramel.
Don’t blink or you’ll miss the recipe: Put tomatoes on a pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast at 375°F until melted. Store leftovers in a jar and cover with olive oil. It’s that quick and that easy. And as Ben Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Then when Old Man Winter tightens his grip on you, reach for your melted tomatoes. Toss them with penne pasta and a little garlic. Sprinkle them on a pizza. Or smear them on a slice of crusty bread. They can do more to lift a dour mood than an anti-depressant, vitamin D supplement, or sun lamp.
Melted Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh herbs (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place tomatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet.
- Generously drizzle with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place stems of fresh herbs over the tomatoes. (Tarragon and thyme are my favorites.)
- Roast until tomatoes look limp and melted, about an hour.
- Place hot tomatoes into a sterilized jar leaving at least an inch of head space.
- Cover tomatoes with olive oil so that no part of the tomato is above the oil line.
- Refrigerate until ready to use*.
*note: The olive oil will solidify in the fridge. Scrape it back, take out as many tomatoes as you need, and smooth the oil back over the tops of the remaining tomatoes. Keeping the tomatoes covered with the oil is the secret to their extended shelf life.