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Winter's oven-roasted tomatoes

January 19, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Roasting tomatoes in a slow oven concentrates flavor and sweetness
Roasting tomatoes in a slow oven concentrates flavor and sweetness (S. Irene Virbila\Los Angeles…)

Right now I’ve got two trays of tomatoes in the oven roasting very slowly. Fresh tomatoes aren’t the best right now, but if you take smaller or cherry tomatoes, halve them and roast in a slow oven, they’ll deepen in flavor as their juices concentrate. In the end, they’re almost as sweet as candy.

Lately, I’ve been making them with two-pound boxes of “cocktail” tomatoes on the vine from Camarillo, which my husband picked up at Costco.

I basically use a method adapted from Patricia Wells’ 2007 book “Vegetable Harvest” (William Morrow, $34.95). She sets the oven to 200 degrees, but I set it to 325 degrees. Halve the tomatoes and arrange them, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper and a pinch of confectioners’ sugar. Shower the tomatoes with the leaves from a fresh sprig of thyme. Roast until the tomatoes are very soft, an hour or more.

Patricia Wells turns her tomatoes over and bastes them with their juices, roasting them a little longer until they’re reduced to half their size. I generally don’t turn the tomato halves over and roast until they're shriveled and have a slight char. Experiment to see how far you like to roast them.

The roasted tomatoes will keep in a jar for a week or so. Use in salads or pasta dishes.

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Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

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