I find myself enjoying them in all ways, in all recipes, in all forms; a delightfully delicious kind of a problem. However, if left too long, the glorious tomatoes can quickly become endless boxes of goo. Anyone who has tasted Manitoba garden-grown tomatoes knows…you cannot beat the purest, most satisfying tomato flavour found right in our own backyards.
Like most vegetables, they are best picked ripe and eaten fresh. Each year, that first bite of a vine-ripened, Manitoba tomato is always a revelation for me. Possessing the energy of our powerful summer sun, every bite grabs my taste buds and slaps them, reminding me to slow down and truly savour…because the seasons are changing ever so quickly.
In effort to harness that summer energy and encapsulate the bold tomato flavour, I am submitting a recipe that will propagate the most versatile of flavour additions, roasted garden tomatoes
So here is where I will begin. Versatility is always a top priority in keeping meals interesting and lively. If you follow my column, you will know that for me to be interested in an ingredient or recipe, it has to be flexible and forgiving. Keeping that in mind, this week my recipe for roasted tomatoes is not something that will raise your roof, but it will be a solid foundation for many future meals.
Roasting is a cooking technique that I love to use to maximize flavour, maintain texture, and promote nutrition. Roasting is defined by using a high source of heat to evenly and easily evaporate the water in the ingredient, which then condenses and enriches the flavours. The most important trick to great roast meats, vegetables, or fruit; is to space the food to allow for sufficient air circulation. The air must be able to move freely among the food to remove the moisture. If the food is spaced too closely, the water vapour that comes out of the food will steam the food closest to it, which creates a soggier, watered-down end product.
Here is the awesome part of this recipe, you can freeze this beautiful flavour and pull it out to add it to your winter recipes like stew, soups, and casseroles. The rich addition of roasted tomatoes to a classical homemade mac and cheese would be the perfect balance of acidity to what is a very rich dish. Pureed into a sauce with olive oil and herbs, its versatility is truly endless. Maximize your nutrition and toss roasted veggies in it or use it as a rub for your roast meats. Mash them and add to mayo, sour cream, or cream cheese for a robust appetizer dip. Add them to your favourite rice pilaf, cous cous, or quinoa.
A great foundation to endless dishes; they freeze very well and can be pureed, strained, left whole, or skinned. Everyone has their preference on how they enjoy their tomatoes, so do as you see fit. They are great as a side dish, as pictured, I tossed them hot from the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh herbs, and seasoning. You could also toss them with your favourite pasta for an incredible and simple sauce. Mix them with cheese, ground beef, and top with bread crumbs for a quick week night meal.
Spread them on a sandwich as a condiment, add them to a salad for a burst of summer flavour, or mix them into your favourite tapenade for a lively kick. Puree, strain, and reduce with chicken stock and cream to make a rustic and soul-satisfying cream of tomato soup that no Campbell could ever hold a candle to.
As the season marches steadily on toward autumn, we must do our best to savour the remaining flavours of summer. This easy and forgiving way of preserving Manitoba’s best garden tomatoes ensures that even those who are not fans of canning can still enjoy the flavours of a warmer time in the dead of winter. Canning requires space for storage, as well as the time, equipment, and patience. My method is simple; roast, cool, freeze. Then, you have smaller units easily available to throw into a crock pot in the morning before work to add depth to a stew, chilli, or soup; or a stellar back-up for dip in the case of the impromptu party. Savour the bounty of our great Manitoba growing season; roasted tomatoes are a strong foundation ingredient and will definitely work to raise the roof of your next meal.
» Amy Bonchuk writes a column every two weeks for the Brandon Sun.@15.6.2 sat tab turn cont:Roasted Tomatoes
• Tomatoes, cut into quarters, core and stem removed
**ensure they are cut to a uniform size for even roasting
• Kosher salt, for sprinkling
• Freshly cracked pepper, for sprinkling.
• Olive oil enough to lightly coat.
Pre-heat oven to 425 F. (If you have a convection oven, use the fan this will help the roasting process for the tomatoes. I would not use the convection for other vegetables or meat, as it might dry them out too much.)
Place cut tomatoes, on a sheet pan or baking stone. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on size. Remove from oven when there is more pulp than liquid inside the pieces.
For a great autumn side dish, toss with a bit more olive oil, herbs, seasoning. Serve warm.
If you are freezing them: let them cool, then package them plus any of the juice that remains on the baking sheet in freezer bags or plastic containers. Label, freeze, and use at your heart’s desire in the dead of winter to add a blast of sunshine to your meal.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 15, 2012