Jim Romanoff is a recipe developer, food writer for the Associated Press and an avid home cook, based in Burlington, VT. In 2011, he received the IACP Burt Greene award for Culinary Writing That Makes a Difference. He has also been honored by the James Beard Foundation.
Freshly harvested plum tomatoes become more intensely flavored with my simple technique.
ALTHOUGH fresh tomatoes are available year-round, I enjoy them most during the summer, especially from my own garden or a farmer's market.
A farmer here in Vermont once told me to eat one of her just-picked heirloom tomatoes with only a sprinkling of sea salt. She said it would be a life-changing experience — and it was.
While it's refreshing to eat the best specimens just as you would an apple, there are simple preparations that maximize the flavor and nutrition. For example, I like roasting tomatoes at high heat to concentrate the flavor and bring out the sweetness by caramelizing the natural sugars. This technique also helps reduce the bitter and acidic qualities in some varieties. What's more, this method is especially good for super-early or late crops that don't have perfect flavor and texture. The result is an intensely savory and sweet tomato with a dense consistency.
For more ways to preserve the food you grow, see the articles in Keeping the Harvest.
Cooking tomatoes can diminish the potency of the fruit's vitamins, but it helps concentrate other nutrients, such as lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that studies suggest may be important to heart health.
In this simple recipe, I've roasted plum tomatoes topped with garlic, fresh parsley and thyme, but you can use any fresh herb you have on hand, or even some fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes (15 minutes active)
Makes 24 tomato halves
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place the tomatoes on the sheet, cut-side up. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are shriveled and beginning to brown on the bottom.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the remaining oil, parsley, thyme and garlic. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and sprinkle the herb mixture evenly over the top. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the herbs are just beginning to brown.
These moist and flavorful roasted tomatoes make an excellent side dish on their own but there are plenty of other things I like to do with them:
Gardening Success Guaranteed
Garden Lab Designed & Tested
Support a Community that Cares
Expert Garden Advice