The Great Tomato Caper

The amazing tomato: Courtesy of

The amazing tomato: Courtesy of

A great ripe tomato can be like eating candy.  With tomato season in full, glorious swing, I say buy 'em up, slice 'em up, and even cook 'em up.  Funny thing about tomatoes, for me though, is that I rarely put them in leafy salads.  I know what you are thinking, lettuce and tomatoes are like oil and vinegar, bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly.  They just go together. Yet, I like tomatoes to shine on their own or used in savory dishes.  Here are a few ways I like serving this juicy red ‘fruit’.  But first a few more beauty shots...


Naturally, fresh tomatoes, basil, oil are a given.  Serve it with burrata and crusty bread and Wow!

But if you want to use them cooked, I have found two roasting methods that truly bring out their best. 
Version One: slow oven roasted with a drizzle of oil.  Version Two: oil roasted, which has these babies swimming in a bath of olive oil.   Either way, they are a sweeter version of the natural selves.

You can use almost any type of tomato that suits your fancy.  If using grape or cherry tomatoes, I definitely leave them whole.  For larger tomatoes like plum or roma tomatoes you can either cut them in half or just score out the core and leave them in their nature beauty.


Slow oven roasted

Line up your ‘maters in a roasted tin (using a size that is commensurate with the amount of tomatoes you have).  Drizzle olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan, add tomatoes, salt, pepper and toss til they are coated.  You can also add whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic to the pan.  Place in a 325 degree oven and roasted for 45-50 minutes until they blister and get almost caramelized. 

Farm fresh grape tomatoes nestled up against some garlic all sliding in olive oil

Farm fresh grape tomatoes nestled up against some garlic all sliding in olive oil

Once they are done, use them for just about anything.  Here are my favorite uses.

Pizza topping

Toss with pasta.  You can even add ricotta cheese to this and put it over the top lusciousness.


Smash a few onto warm crusty bread

A couple of other uses, although I could go on forever...

  • Mash up the roasted garlic adding some of the juices, then slather on roasted chicken and top with the tomatoes.
  • Oven roast or pan sear a whole fish and add the tomatoes to finish
  • Add the tomatoes to rice (future post Rice with Oven Roasted Tomatoes & Zucchini) 

Oil Roasted

I saw a recipe for oil roasted tomatoes in Saveur magazine years ago and have been making it ever since. For this version, leave the tomatoes whole.  Stand them up in the pan with the stem facing up.  Pour, and I mean pour a generous amount of olive oil enough to come up 1/3 of the tomato.  Add several sprigs of thyme and whole cloves of garlic with the skins. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and course ground pepper. Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are super tender and the oil is bubbling.  Let cool.

Remove the tomatoes and use as you see fit.  For the liquid gold you just created, pour that tomato/garlic/thyme infused oil into a bottle and use at will.  This oil is wonderful for pasta or rice.  Use it to sauté vegetables, or use it to create a garlic mash with those candy like cloves you fetch out of the oil.

I like to serve these tomatoes as a warm appetizer accompanied with fresh ricotta cheese that is sprinkled with coarse sea salt and coarse ground pepper and drizzled with olive oil.  I mash up the garlic cloves and place them in a small bowl and allow my guests to smear some on warm toasted bread, then some ricotta and topped with a jewel like tomato.

This rustic, comfort food has just the right amount of class for any dinner party.


Clearly, we have cracked this tomato caper and shown just a few ways to let this fruit shine, other than in your salad. And the best part of roasting tomatoes and keeping them in the oil, they are preserved for weeks on end. So cook up batches while the getting is good, and keep on hand all summer long.