Right about this time of year, I crave fresh tomatoes. With a passion. But the tomatoes at the market are still very sad indeed–pink, cottony, and flavorless–and will be for several more months to come.
If you are feeling the same way, I have a solution: roast whole canned tomatoes. They can be eaten hot from the oven–I love to toss them with pasta or quinoa (and a bit of goat cheese…sigh)–or cooled and refrigerated, then served atop salads, or tucked into sandwiches, omelets, or straight into your mouth.
Roasted tomatoes remind me of my maternal grandmother, Gran. Gran was sophisticated, beautiful, a bit snooty (especially when it came to those she considered “cheeky”), and lots of fun. She also happened to adore tomatoes. I realize now that she and my grandfather typically timed their late summer visits to coincide with my mother’s bumper crop of lush, scarlet beauties.
Gran preferred her tomatoes with minimal adornment. Large tomatoes were sliced and plated, sprinkled with nothing more than salt, fresh pepper, and perhaps some herbs; cherry tomatoes were simply nudged from their stems and popped, straight up and warm from the sun, on the spot.
But Gran also loved to roast and broil whole tomatoes to concentrate their flavors. She would serve them hot alongside roast beef, but she would make plenty for leftovers which she would savor the next day for lunch with a bit of cheese and bread. When fresh tomatoes were out of season, she turned to canned whole ones and roasted them, too–a nifty trick she used to satisfy her own tomato longings in the long, freezing Winnipeg winters, and one she continued to rely on after moving to sunny Southern California.
Roasting transforms whole canned tomatoes from good to spectacular. It’s a cheap and easy process, too, requiring nothing more than the tomatoes (halved lengthwise), olive oil, and some pepper. It’s hard not to devour them immediately (however, you are more than likely to do so), but if you can, reserve some for later for the above-mentioned sandwiches and salads. You can also puree the tomatoes with their reserved juices for an instant roasted tomato sauce (just add some broth and touch of cream for instant roasted tomato soup). Pretty fabulous, just like Gran.
Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice in a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise; squeeze out most of the juice and pulp into the bowl of reserved juices.
Place the tomatoes in a single layer in a large roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper; gently toss to coat.
Roast in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until tomatoes are a deep scarlet.
Serve immediately (e.g., as a side or tossed with hot pasta or grains) or transfer, along with any juices or oil, to a large bowl
Cover and refrigerate the tomatoes up to 4 days; use in sandwiches, salads, eggs, or anything you like!
(1) Go BPA-Free: Right now, Eden Organic Foods is one of the only brands that offers BPA-free canned goods. Read all about it HERE. Most of all, thier products taste fantastic! And no, I am not a sponsor of Eden Foods in any way, I just use and love their products. If you cannot find them at your store, you can order (I order through amazon and get free super-saver shipping).
Make Roasted Tomato Sauce: Prepare tomatoes as directed in a roasting pan (baking sheet is too shallow to make sauce). Remove pan from oven and immediately add the reserved drained juices; stir with a wooden spoon to release the delicious roasted bits from bottom of pan (fond). Use a handheld blender to puree into a sauce. Use immediately or cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days (or freeze up to 3 months).
Saving Reserved Juices: If you are not making sauce, you can still save the reserved juices! They are great for adding to soups and sauces. Refrigerate the reserved juice for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Thanks for posting! It was the perfect answer to what i was googling. Btw, i live in the village where eden "lives". They opened a little shop attached to their factory, which is completely lovely. If you're in the ann arbor, MI area, drive over about 20 minutes to Clinton and check it out! We're a beautiful little village in southern Michigan and you can shop some of their products that you might not see in stores :)
Tuesday 28th of April 2015
Ooh, I'll definitely go next time I am in the area! I love Michigan--we used to camp there in the summer (when my huband and I were in grad school at Indiana University) :)
Saturday 23rd of March 2013
What a super idea! I roast our homegrown tomatoes in the summer and freeze them in Ziploc bags, but never thought to roast canned tomatoes. I'll bet they're great in the middle of winter when you're all out of the others. Thanks for sharing this.
Sunday 24th of March 2013
You are so welcome! Great idea for roasting and freezing homegrown ones, too--I'll have to do that this summer!
Sunday 17th of March 2013
thanks for reminding me about these! I think roasted tomatoes form the best base for tortilla soup...such smokey richness. And being from north of the 49th parallel myself, I can see how your Gran from Winnipeg would crave this!
Sunday 24th of March 2013
completely agree about the roasted tomatoes in tortilla soup, Laura! :)