Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?
“To really figure out if a tomato is a fruit or vegetable, you need to know what makes a fruit a fruit, and a vegetable a vegetable. The big question to ask is, DOES IT HAVE SEEDS? If the answer is yes, then technically, (botanically) you have a FRUIT. This, of course, makes your tomato a fruit. It also makes cucumbers, squash, green beans and walnuts all fruits as well. Along with the fruit from a plant or tree, we can often eat the leaves(lettuce,) stems(celery,) roots (carrots,) and flowers (broccoli.) Many of these other parts of the plant are typically referred to as VEGETABLES. Now don’t go looking for tomatoes next to the oranges in your grocery stores; fruits like tomatoes and green beans are usually (alas, incorrectly) referred to as “vegetables” in most grocery stores and cookbooks.”
One of my favorite things about summer is the bounty of fresh tomatoes coming from our garden. There’s nothing better than a “still warm from the sun” sliced tomato sprinkled with a little sea salt. I could eat them all day! A few years ago, I tried a recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine for Slow-Roasted Tomatoes. When I have more than I can eat coming from the garden, I’ll pop them into the oven for about 3 hours and let them do their magic. The results are so delicious, as the slow-roasting concentrates and caramelizes the flavor. The aroma throughout the house is incredible, as well! I’ve been known to buy the box of beefsteak tomatoes from Costco during the winter months, just for slow roasting! For an easy hors d’oeuvre, top some warm goat cheese with some of the chopped tomatoes, a few pine nuts and a drizzle of pesto and serve with crackers. For an antipasto, put the tomatoes on a platter with some olives, prosciutto, a hunk of really good Parmigiano-Reggiano and some crusty bread. They can also be tossed with pasta or just served as a side dish. The possibilities are really endless! A bonus is the wonderful, tomato-infused oil left over after roasting. You can drizzle it over grilled veggies, crusty bread, or use it in a vinaigrette. If you love tomatoes, you’re gonna love this dish!
Fine Cooking Magazine
3 Tbs. plus 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-1/2 to 5 lb. medium-large ripe beefsteak tomatoes (about 12), stemmed but not cored
Scant 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
Tip: Don’t use unrimmed baking sheets or the oil and juices will spill out; instead, use several shallow gratin dishes if you don’t have rimmed baking sheets.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12×17-inch rimmed baking sheet or two 9×12-inch rimmed baking sheets with foil. If you have parchment, put a sheet on top of the foil. Coat the pan or pans with 3 Tbs. of the olive oil.
Cut the tomatoes in half through the equator (not through the stem). Arrange the halves, cut side up, on the baking sheet, turning to coat their bottoms with some of the oil. Sprinkle a pinch each of salt and sugar over each half, and drizzle each with a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Arrange the garlic over the halves and top with a generous sprinkling of thyme. Pour the remaining 1 cup olive oil over and around the tomato halves.
Roast in the center of the oven until the tomatoes are concentrated, dark reddish brown (with deep browning around the edges and in places on the pan) and quite collapsed (at least half their original height; they will collapse more as they cool), about 3 hours for very ripe, fleshy tomatoes, about 4 hours for tomatoes that are less ripe or that have a high water content. (Check on the tomatoes frequently after the first 1 1/2 hours. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the oven temperature.) Let cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes and then serve warm or at room temperature. Be sure to reserve the tomato oil (keep refrigerated for up to a week) to use on its own or in a vinaigrette.
Plum tomato variation: Substitute plum tomatoes, cut in half through the stem end and seeded. The roasting time will be about 2 hours. Roasted plum tomato halves hold together particularly well; layer them in a terrine or roll them up, stuffed with goat cheese and basil, as an appetizer.
To store the tomatoes, refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to a couple of months. They’ll continue to release juice during storage.
Liz’s Note: I’m not near as precise as the recipe calls for. First of all, mine aren’t always beefsteak tomatoes. Any tomato will do, and if I don’t have enough to fill the pan, then I just roast what I have. I also use more garlic and more thyme than called for (probably double, just cause I like both). Depending on the meatiness of the tomatoes and how ripe they are will determine how long to roast them. Keep a close eye on them after a couple of hours and reduce the heat if they start getting too brown. They should literally collapse within themselves. Mine will just about always take a good 3 hours roasted on the middle rack.
Filed under: APPETIZERS & BEVERAGES, SIDES, SAUCES & CONDIMENTS | Tagged: appetizers, side dishes, slow roasted tomatoes, tomatoes | 1 Comment »