Ah, wintertime in the Great Lakes – nothing much is growing here except the icicles hanging from the eaves. On gloomy days, there’s nothing better than a taste of summer. If you canned or froze produce, terrific. But what if you did not? Extra baked tomatoes are the answer.
Extra baked tomatoes is the perfect descriptive term: these tomatoes are baked, baked, and then baked some more: extra baked. It’s a way to concentrate the tomato flavor and turn winter tomatoes into something that at least reminds you of their summer glory. Don’t bother with hard pink rocks – nothing on earth can make those tasty. Smell them; if they have no smell they’ll have no taste. Look for hydroponic tomatoes-on-the-vine; they are perfect for this recipe.
Look for a tomato that at least smells like a tomato, because if there’s no smell, there won’t be much taste either. If you can find ripe tomatoes on the vine (typically these are hydroponic tomatoes) they’re a great place to start.
It’s quite easy, but it does take time. I’ve written a 4-tomato batch here, but there’s no reason at all you couldn’t fill an entire baking tray with tomatoes and have a feast of them. The tomatoes will keep, and see further notes for ideas on using them.
You can reheat the tomatoes, of course, or use them in various dishes where you want a burst of flavor. If you have a lot of them left over, you can also simply blend them into a sauce – great on meatloaf!
Extra Baked Tomatoes
- 4 tomatoes use the best you can find
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs or use 1 tsp dried
- ¼ tsp salt
- First, oil a baking dish that will fit your tomatoes snugly, and heat the oven to 325˚F / 160˚C.
- Core the tomatoes, and slice them in half horizontally. Put them in an oiled baking dish, cut side up.
- Mince the garlic finely, then mix it with oil, minced herbs, and salt, or use a tiny food chopper to make a garlic/herb paste. Smear this over the top of each tomato half; use it all.
- Bake at 325º about 2 hours. The tomatoes will eventually exude juices and collapse, and then will begin to caramelize. Expect some dark bits on the dish itself, but don’t let the garlic burn.
- Let the tomatoes cool, then pack them in a single layer in a storage container. Add any oil that’s been left in the baking dish, it’s full of flavor.