The tomatoes have finally arrived here in Minnesota! Yes, that sentence deserves an exclamation point. It’s always a long wait for me throughout the year for these babies. I love tomatoes, but the sad store-bought versions just won’t do. So, I can or freeze as much as I can to make it through the winter, then patiently wait for them to appear at the farmers markets the next summer. Every year I somehow trick myself into thinking that they should appear earlier than they really do. Tomatoes need time and lots of sun. I have a few plants in my yard again this year that are coming along nicely, but the bulk of my preserving comes from the farmers markets, where I can buy bushel upon bushel of these little red gems.
I’ve mentioned here before that I love to can salsa. I’ll be makes lots of batches of this recipe in the coming weeks. I also can plain tomatoes, and a couple different versions of tomato sauce. The version I’m sharing today is not a canned one–so, you can exhale now. It’s actually my favorite tomato sauce and I preserve it by freezing it. Super easy and ridiculously delicious. I love to can, as it’s a great way to preserve and we happen to have a large storage room in the basement, so it works well for our family. But, in all honesty, I love the taste of this un-canned sauce even more. The flavors are spot-on and lemon juice (which is used in canning to keep the ph levels safe) is not needed. I use roma tomatoes here (they are wonderful for sauces) as they have a lower water content.
Roasting tomatoes is one of my favorite ways to eat them. Something magical happens when that tomato caramelizes a bit. The flavor intensifies and I simply can’t stop popping them into my mouth. I love to pair them with some delicious cheese and crusty bread. Simple summer meals are the best. When we’ve eaten our fill, I put the rest of the tomatoes, garlic, and herbs into the food processor and give it a few pulses until it become this thick, fragrant tomato sauce that can be used in so many ways. At this point, I freeze the sauce, unless I want to use it in the next day or so. Freeze it in whatever you like– freezer bags or vacuum seal it in a special bag (freeze first, then vacuum seal it closed) are both methods that work well. I use this sauce all winter long and it is always a sad day when I pull the last one from the freezer. I hope you give this version a try. Enjoy!
The Recipe: Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic and Herbs
Roma tomatoes, cut in half (as many as will fit on 1-2 baking sheets–depending upon how many you want to roast)
1 bulb of garlic, peeled and cloves separated (per baking sheet)
handful of freshly chopped herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, parsley (per baking sheet)
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 1-2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper (depending upon how many tomatoes you want to roast). Fit the tomatoes snuggly, cut-side up, in a single-layer onto the pan, they will decrease in size as they cook. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 40-50 minutes (if using two pans, rotate them half-way through). Then increase temperature to 400°F and roast for at least another 10 minutes to caramelize the tomatoes, sometimes a bit longer. Check the bottom of them for a dark caramel color. Remove from oven when done. If wanting to make sauce, place all of the roasted ingredients into a food processor, juices too (or by hand). Pulse for a few times until mixed. Place in freezer bags or bags that can be vacuum sealed (freeze first, then seal), or any other container you want to store them in. Enjoy throughout the winter!
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