I grow tomatoes all year round in my little terrace garden – grape, cherry, heirloom, pear-shaped ones, black plum ones, I’ve tried the whole range. Although I do get a steady harvest all year round—owing to the soaring heat and humidity levels in Chennai—this time of year, in the months of March – June, I usually get the biggest haul.
Huge vats of tomato sauce, tomatoes in salads, bakes, curries, chili, pastas, and these stuffed peppers, I think we’re consuming our own weight in the fruit everyday! In an attempt to preserve some for later and to make use of this bountiful harvest, I made a big batch of sun-dried tomato pesto, or pesto rosso – the fundamental pesto ingredients : basil, parmesan, almonds (instead of pine nuts), garlic and olive oil, and additionally olives, and these bold slow roasted tomatoes. A tapenade meets pesto situation.
Really easy, all you have to do to make these slow-roasted tomatoes is chop and bung them in the oven for two to three hours, by which time they will have shriveled up and halved in size. You can use them straight away in sandwiches (a grilled cheese with bursts of roasted tomato – yum yum), tossed into salads, made into a pesto like I’d mentioned earlier, coarsely blended and slathered on meats/fish and baked, these scraggly bits can pack a real flavour punch.
I talk big about how you can incorporate them into dishes, all the while knowing that this is how it always ends for me : straight out of the oven, I ‘test’ one, and then another, and before you know it, I’ve already eaten most of them off the tray. Please, consider yourself warned.
- 1 ½ kg tomatoes (any variety - I use heirloom or cherry)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra, if refrigerating)
- 5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Coarse salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 140 C / 280 F and line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
- Halve or quarter the tomatoes based on their size (you want them to be about 2” X 2” approx). Lay them on the lined tray along with the cloves of garlic, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and oregano; drizzle generously with olive oil.
- Bake the tomatoes in the oven for up to 2 - 3 hours, or until they start to dry and shrivel up to almost half their original size (this will depend on the ripeness and/or size of tomato, so keep an eye out after 2 hours). You still want them to have some juice and moisture, not completely dried out.
- You can use them right away, but if storing : pack the tomatoes in a jar and pour over some extra olive oil and refrigerate.