Monday, September 10, 2012

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Speaking of poison (see previous post), the tomato—first brought from South America to Europe in the early 1500s—was long thought to be poisonous and therefore grown only as an ornamental. It is, after all, a member of the deadly nightshade family, which has numerous poisonous members. And anyone who grows them knows how toxic the leaves of the tomato plant are. (In order to avoid the severe rash that would otherwise result, I always immediately wash my arms and hands with warm, soapy water after working with my tomato plants, and then watch with amazement as all that bright yellow-green water flows down the drain.)

 heirlooms from my garden

Enter our hero, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson, of Salem, New Jersey:
As the story is told, it was Colonel Johnson who on September 26, 1820 once and for all proved tomatoes non-poisonous and safe for consumption. He stood on the steps of the Salem courthouse and bravely consumed an entire basket of tomatoes without keeling over or suffering any ill effects whatsoever. His grandstanding attracted a crowd of over 2,000 people who were certain he was committing public suicide. The local firemen’s band even played a mournful dirge to add to the perceived morbid display of courage.
[See here for link to quote.]

Thanks to Colonel Johnson, we can all now indulge in spaghetti alla Marinara of a Saturday night and sip a bloody Mary come the following morning.

This time of year is tomato heaven. Or hell, if you have so many you don’t know what to do with them. Since I currently have a bumper crop, I decided to roast some to save for later on when the memory of a garden-fresh tomato has begun to fade.

I started with a basket of smallish specimens and pulled off their stems:

Next, I sliced them in half—through the equator, not through the stem. You can see the other ingredients in this shot: olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place the halves in a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P (go easy on the salt, as you don’t know what you’ll be using them for later; it might be salty):

Put the pan in a 225°F oven and roast them for 3 to 4 hours. The smaller the tomatoes the less time they’ll need (mine took 4 hours).

You’ll know they’re done when they start to shrivel up and the centers are starting to dry out. You want some moisture, but not so much that you could squeeze them and juice would flow out:

Let them cool and then put them on a paper towel in an air-tight container and keep refrigerated until use. If you’re not going to eat them within a week or so, you can drop them into a zip-lock bag to freeze.

Use the slow-roasted tomatoes as you would the sun-dried variety: on sandwiches, in salads or pastas. Or just pop ’em in your mouth and chew!

1 comment:

  1. Yum. Unfortunately, you remind me that I haven't eaten nearly enough tomatoes this year. I have no idea why.