Roasting tomatoes is one of the quickest, easiest, and most flavorful ways to cook tomatoes. Up north our tomato season is once a year, and too short for my liking, so preserving my maters is essential to sustaining life….well maybe that’s exaggerating a little….but well you get my drift!
I think I’ve told you that my thumb is not green. It isn’t even the faintest shade of green. My grandfather had bright green thumbs, two of them! Somehow that green thumb gene skipped this gal. Despite my lack of gardening gifts, every year I still give gardening the ol college try. Ten years ago when we moved “to the country”, I planted my first garden. It was a disaster. I will save the gory details for another day. Since then I have learned my strengths and weaknesses in the gardening world. Strengths (if you can call them that): herbs, tomatoes, and jalaepeno peppers, and even these few things don’t always make it under my thumb. Weaknesses: everything else.
This year I planted 6 tomato plants. Four Roma and two beefsteak. They are going gangbusters! I am gathering bowls of tomatoes every other day off my plants. My basil also did well this year, last year not so much. I think basil likes hot and dry, not wet…..just my observation.
My mom used to can tomatoes. I may finally give canning tomatoes a try this year, but I have this silly fear of killing my whole family off with botulism, from not canning my maters properly. I actually had a botulism nightmare. So for now I’ve found an easier, quicker safer alternative, ROASTING, and freezing.
Roasted tomatoes are so versatile! First I will share with you how I roast and freeze tomatoes then I’ll share with you a few of my favorite ways to use them!
If you don’t have your own tomato plants you can always pick up tomatoes by the bushel at the farmers market. At my local farmers market they were priced around $15 per half bushel. Start by washing and cutting off any rotten our unsightly spots then cut off the tops. As you see I’m using Roma and beefsteak, you can roast any variety of tomato you like, they’re all fantastic roasted!
Cut tomatoes in half or quarter them. For this recipe you will want 20-25 tomatoes.
Place tomatoes in a large bowl, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and as little or as much fresh cracked pepper as you like. Toss this around. Spread tomatoes out on a baking sheet. Place in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.
Side Note: I decided to snoop around and see how others in the blogosphere roast tomatoes. Many roast their maters at a lower temp for longer, much longer. Most I noticed carefully, and precisely placed their tomatoes in nice rows, all facing seed side up. WHAT THE @%#^$ !! For goodness sake just throw them helter skelter on the pan, dump them out there, throw them in the oven, set the time for 45 minutes and be on your merry way! OK I get the lower temp thing. I personally like my tomatoes to caramelize get all juicy and they do this better at a higher heat. At a lower longer heat they will be tasty too, however your product will be more like a sun dried tomato. I did see a few that roasted their maters at temps as high as 450, for less time, that works too. So just incase you don’t look around I just thought I’d tell you what I found, and of course what I think about what I found. Take it or leave it…..grain of salt….wink.
There they are. Succulent little beauties!
If you prefer your tomatoes skinless, wait a few minutes until they cool down enough to handle and then pluck the skins right off them. It’s as easy as that!
Now for freezing. Are you ready? This gets really technical. You will need: freezer bags, and a straw.
Let tomatoes cool completely on the baking sheet, then pour them into a freezer bag.
1. Try to remove as much air from bag as possible.
2. You can always use the straw trick if you are having troubles.
3. Label and date bag.
4. Throw in freezer.
preheat oven to 400 degrees
20-25 Roma Tomatoes (or about 8 cups of any variety)
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
fresh cracked Pepper, as much as you like
Clean tomatoes, half or quarter them, toss in large bowl with oil, salt and pepper, pour out on a baking sheet. Place in preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on pan.
Freezing: Place cooled tomatoes in Zip-loc freezer bags. Make sure you have removed as much air as possible, place in freezer. Roasted tomatoes will be good for up to 6 months (or longer) in freezer.
Note: If you prefer your tomatoes skinless, let them cool after roasting, and the skins will pull off very easily.
There are so many great uses for roasted tomatoes. I love to pull them out of the freezer and make a quick sauce for pasta. They are great in soups, and stews. One of our favorite ways to use them is for pizza sauce. Just smear the roasted tomates around on your crust pile on the toppings and presto, you have the best homemade pizza sauce ever!
Happy Mater Eatin’!