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I used to hate tomatoes. No joke. When I was in high school, and well into college, I refused to eat fresh tomatoes unless absolutely necessary. I was fine with tomato products — after all, what kind of person eats a white pizza anyway? — but present me with a sandwich with fresh tomato and I would pick out any offending slices.

Wrong. I was so, so wrong.

I saw the light when I was presented with a slice of salt-and-peppered black brandywine tomato at the Santa Monica farmer’s market. This was nothing like the anemic specimens I was used to seeing at the grocery store. Richly red and green and brown, it promised real flavor, not the bland wateriness of the tomatoes of my past. Chew, chew, swallow, and I was a changed girl.

Nowadays, I bring home scoopfuls of little oval coeur de pigeon cherry tomatoes for caprese salads or just to eat as post-lunch snacks, but a couple of weeks ago I started roasting about half of them as soon as I got them home.

You guys. Do this.

They become soft and mellow and sweet, with a lovely lingering acidity, and I put them in nearly everything. Having these in a jar in the fridge means I can make dinner out of almost anything. You can use them in most recipes that call for sun-dried tomatoes, too, but anything that needs a little color or acidity benefits from a spoonful.

Process

  1. Grab a bunch of tomatoes. I like to do it immediately after I get them home, but this would also be a good use for tomatoes that have started to get kind of old and wrinkly. Cherry, beefsteak, roma, heirloom — doesn’t matter.
  2. Heat your oven to 350-400°F.
  3. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and cut larger tomatoes into equivalent pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with enough olive oil to cover every tomato surface, a couple pinches of salt, some big grinds of pepper, and a glug or two of balsamic vinegar. If you have fresh herbs like oregano or thyme, feel free to toss some in there too.
  5. Spread out on a sheet pan in one layer.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the tomatoes have cooked down and look a bit charred in places. Allow them to cool, then spoon them and any remaining juices or oil into a jar. It will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Uses

  • Roasted tomato bread pudding (yes, I’m on a bread pudding kick) is a mind-blowing and unexpected side made of stale bread and old tomatoes. Win/win.
  • Toss into pastas or bake on pizzas.
  • A quick whir in a food processor or blender makes a simple sauce.
  • Stick ’em in a sandwich.
  • Toast slices of bread, rub them with a clove of garlic, and pile on cold roasted tomatoes for bruschetta.
  • Toss it into a fresh tomato salad for another layer of flavor.

Music to cook by: Cruel [St. Vincent // Strange Mercy]

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