We all know that “slow roasting” can bring a tough piece of meat to its knees. So, think about what can happen when you slow roast a soft and juicy fruit/vegetable, like a tomato. It actually doesn’t make it softer, it makes it tougher if cooked properly but the comparison I’m trying to convey here is about flavor. Now, bite a ripe, plump tomato with a sprinkle of salt on it; after that, bite into a lightly seasoned, good slow-roasted tomato. It feels like you tasted food from two different planets. The chemical reaction that is unchained between the red fruit and dry temperature is at the core of this sublime, yet humble dish. It tastes sweet, almost candied, with a barbeque-like zest and slightly chewy texture. Best part: very adaptable in the kitchen. Hot or cold goes into salads, pasta, pizza, fish, meat, side dish and more. You’ll find it in my spaghetti recipe with lentils, spinach and oven roasted tomatoes.
Now let’s get our hands dirty:
Use ripe and juicy Roma size tomatoes, even Campari tomatoes are suitable for this dish. Don’t use large fruit as they’ll take forever to cook.
Cut the tomatoes in half and put them “belly up” (skin side down) on a baking pan, sprinkle salt and pepper, the garlic, parsley and oregano previously chopped, drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven.
Cooking time is dictated by temperature; I prefer the slow roasting method so my ideal is about 5-6 hours at 200°; it is satisfactory to cook them at 300-325° for 2-2.5 hours and if you’re in tight bind you can “squeeze” them in less than 2 hours at 425-450°. Exact cooking time is hard to define as size, juiciness and oven behavior play a big role, so keep checking on them the first time you do it.
Tip: after removing the cooked tomatoes from the baking pan arm yourself with a piece of bread and dip+scrape the bottom of the pan! Yum!