Winter tomatoes, blah, we all know that. At least in these latitudes. When I visited California in December, my mom had a 10-foot Roma tomato plant that had climbed beyond its trellis into the apple tree and was still fruiting as it reached for the winter sky. Here in Seattle, I can barely get a tomato to ripen in my back yard in September. But that’s a different story.
This is not, mind you, a recipe for turning a winter tomato into a summer tomato. There is nothing you can do in mid-February to turn a hard, lifeless winter tomato into the juicy, fragrant, wonderous thing that a summer tomato is. This is a recipe for something different altogether. Something jammy and sweetish, but with the acid undertones of tomato flavor. Something with a little chew and a little luscious pulp and juice. Something you will want to eat a lot of.
In the summertime, I like to buy tomatoes by the box to roast and freeze for winter. We use them all year on pizzas, in soups and pastas and sandwiches, in pots of white beans. They’re great with roasted garlic, or smeared onto a piece of toast with fresh goat cheese. But eventually we run out. These roasted tomatoes can be used in all the same ways.
Roasted Tomatoes take some time, so start early or make a batch on the weekend to use throughout the week. Quarter Roma tomatoes and place them on a baking sheet with a handful of thyme sprigs. Drizzle with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, which will sweeten as it reduces, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 275 for a long, long time. Maybe two hours. You want the edges to begin to brown and the bodies to collapse into a succulent, semi-dried state. Taste one. If it is watery, or if it still says winter tomato to you, leave it in a bit longer.
These tomatoes would be darn tasty, come to think of it, on yesterday’s homemade spinach pasta. We’ll have to make that again soon.