Thursday, September 23, 2010

Once Upon a Tomato...................

So I thought I would dedicate my next few posts to my favorite fruit, the tomato.  I can honestly say that if tomatoes some day cease to exist I think I would shrivel up and die, and outside of garlic, olive oil, and butter (I have to say it , YUMMMMM) they are what I cook with the most.  I was on my bus the other day, on my way to work, rocking out to a poorly selected Bon Jovi tune, reminiscing about eighties hair bands that I strangely adored as a kid when it hit me.........s$%!, tomato season is almost over!  I had a mission, find as many local tomatoes and preserve them for those long winter months when I am tomato-less (well, good tomato-less that is).  Now granted I am growing tomatoes in my little urban garden (yes, feeding my ego again) but my fat a@@ self has gone out, picked them all, and inhaled them (naughty, naughty).  So the next day it was off to my favorite produce market, to find tomatoes.................
I get to the market, and by the looks of it everyone else in town decided today was the day to go there as well.  The parking lot requires the ability to solve a rubix cube in order to park your car and being able to get to the produce itself requires a little tap dancing and some subtle squeeze and turn maneuvers. Why put myself through this?  Because it's a great market. 

Goodies at the market

Now you might ask how do you know you've found a good market?  You know you've found a good market if the produce is fresh, locally grown, it's affordable, and honestly I love a market with good people watching.  For me sometimes, the weirder, the better.  Anyway, in my book any market which supports your local small farmer is a winner, and this market definitely fits that bill.  It's a mish-mash of locally grown produce surrounded by canning jars and lots of old ladies, dressed like they stepped out of the 1940's, squabbling over grabbing the best pickling cukes, cabbages, apples and pears for preserving.  I have even heard a heated discussion between two ladies, cabbages in hand ready for throwing, about what recipe makes the best sauerkraut, awesome.... people watching at its best.

So, I am wrestling my way through the market, my arms full of other crap I didn't need but had to have (cipollini onions, pears, plums, apples............have I told you lately that I am utterly ridiculous!) when I saw them (chorus please), Roma tomatoes.  I think I was almost at a dead run as I rushed to them, as if they were the last Roma tomatoes on earth, and quickly filled two enormous bags with tomatoes and headed home.

Canning is probably the most popular way of preserving tomatoes but I prefer to roast them.  I then just stick them in a bag or container and freeze them until I want to use them.  I prefer roasting because it brings out this amazing sweet flavor in the tomatoes, and since here in the states our tomatoes typically have a lower sugar content that in other parts of the world I think that roasting them makes up for that.  So, roasting first, then what to do with them later...........................

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

4-6 lbs Roma tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic grated (I use a microplane)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine olive oil, garlic and herbs in a large bowl.  Dried herbs are used here because fresh herbs burn due to their water content.  Add tomatoes and toss, completely coating all the tomatoes in the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.  Pour tomatoes onto a rimmed baking tray (jelly roll pan works well, put you could use a shallow casserole dish) and bake the tomatoes until they look very shriveled and a their juices are reduced (about 1 1/2-2 hours). 

Now your ready to either freeze and cherish them or sacrifice them immediately to the culinary gods.  I think sacrifice is on the menu......

No comments:

Post a Comment