Incredibly versatile, roasted tomatoes work as a side dish as well as the basis for sauces. Cold, they can be tossed with cucumbers and onions for a salad. Peeled and chopped, they add body and flavor to stews, soups, and pastas.
Ripe and over ripe tomatoes work best. If you shop at farmers' markets, keep an eye out for discounted tomatoes. This week at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, tomatoes were selling for $2.50 - $3.50/pound, but the over ripe ones were priced at 60 cents/pound.
When they're roasting, tomatoes give off a clear liquid. The flavor is pure essence of tomato. The liquid can be used separately to flavor a simple pasta or as a final basting on a grilled meat. The wonderful chef, cookbook writer, and founder of Fra'Mani, Paul Bertolli was famous for hanging tomatoes in cheese cloth and capturing the clear tomato water that he called "the blood of the fruit."
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 90 minutes
3 pounds ripe tomatoes (washed, stems removed)
Sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the whole tomatoes on a Silpat sheet or a piece of aluminum foil on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 90 minutes. When the tomatoes are removed from the pan, be certain to spatula off all the seasoned olive oil and tomato water. That liquid is full of flavor. Spoon it over the tomatoes.
The tomatoes can be served as a side dish with other vegetables, pasta, and grilled meats.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Yield: 1 quart
Time: 5 minutes
3 pounds roasted tomatoes
Put the roasted tomatoes through a food mill. Discard the skins and seeds.
Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce
Yield: 2 cups sauce
Time: 30 minutes
1 quart roasted tomato sauce
1/4 pound brown mushrooms (washed, dried, sliced thin)
1 medium yellow onion (washed, peeled, finely chopped)
5 cloves garlic (peeled, finely chopped)
1 cup Italian parsley leaves (washed, finely chopped)
1 tablespoon oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon tamari (optional)
Sea salt and pepper
Sauté the onions and garlic until lightly browned, add the parsley and mushrooms and continuing cooking until lightly browned. Add the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer until the volume is reduced by half. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt, pepper, oregano, or tamari.
The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week or frozen for a month or more.