Slow-baked tomatoes

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

This is a useful way of using up a large harvest of tomatoes or that special end-of-the-day clear-out from the local market. Once they're semi-dried you can eat them as they are, pickled, stored in olive oil or even preserved in a sweet stock syrup. If you preserve them in oil you can blend or chop them into a pasta sauce or serve them as antipasti. If pickled they are perfect with Italian or Spanish cheeses and delicious with a Welsh rarebit or melted taleggio on toasted focaccia.

This is a useful way of using up a large harvest of tomatoes or that special end-of-the-day clear-out from the local market. Once they're semi-dried you can eat them as they are, pickled, stored in olive oil or even preserved in a sweet stock syrup. If you preserve them in oil you can blend or chop them into a pasta sauce or serve them as antipasti. If pickled they are perfect with Italian or Spanish cheeses and delicious with a Welsh rarebit or melted taleggio on toasted focaccia. Although we're not used to treating tomatoes as a dessert, if they're preserved in syrup they can be turned into a great sweet tomato tart, on a disc of puff pastry baked in the oven.

You will find lots of ways of using these tomatoes, so it's worth making a large batch. If you're making the sweet version, omit the salt, herbs and garlic.

20 to 30 plum or round tomatoes, approximately 2kg
1tbsp Maldon sea salt
A few sprigs of thyme or rosemary, leaves chopped and mixed with the salt
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and mixed with the salt

Preheat the oven to the lowest setting, something like gas mark 1/2 or 1, or 100°C. Cut the tomatoes in half and lightly season on the cut side with the salt mixture. Lay them on a couple of oven trays cut-side-up and leave in the oven overnight ­ depending on how long you sleep (6-8 hours will be about right).

The tomatoes should have dried to about half their original size. Leave them to cool and choose one of the following ways to preserve them. You'll need sterilised Kilner jars, or keep them in the fridge in airtight containers.

Olive oil Carefully put the tomatoes into a sterilised jar or airtight container and cover with extra virgin olive oil. The oil can be used afterwards for dressings or marinades.

Pickled Bring 1 litre of balsamic vinegar (a cheap one is fine) to the boil with 300ml of water, 2 bay leaves, 4 cloves and 15 black peppercorns and leave to cool. Cover the tomatoes in a sterilised jar or airtight container with this mixture.

Sweet tomatoes Bring to the boil 500g caster sugar with 200ml water, 6 cloves, half a stick of cinnamon and a bay leaf and leave to cool. Pour over the tomatoes in a sterilised jar or airtight container.

Comments