Smitten with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Bruschetta with Chevre and Slow Roasted Tomatoes

I’m beginning to think there’s nothing quite as satisfying as making a tray of slow-roasted tomatoes.  Now, I know I’ve said this about a lot of things.  Bread, for example.  And it’s true that there’s nothing quite as satisfying as making a loaf of bread with your own two hands.  But man, these tomatoes are something.  And they are simple.  So simple, that the extraordinary flavor almost doesn’t make sense.  The flavor is sweet, but intense.  Sultry, even.  You’ll see.  You’ll be smitten, too.

If there’s one thing I learned about food while living in Sicily, it’s this:  less is more.

Simplify.

Want to learn how to cook?  Quit trying to follow complicated recipes out of fancy books.  First, you must simplify.

What ingredients do you like?  Walk through the produce section of your grocery store or your local market without a grocery list and without any particular recipe in mind.  What catches your eye?  What calls to you?  Pick it up, take it home, and see if you can figure out the simplest way to make it taste really great.

There are very few ingredients, animal or vegetable, that wouldn’t benefit from something as simple as a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt, or a squeeze of lemon juice.

But wait, you want to know about these tomatoes, don’t you?

Cutting Tomatoes

The great thing about slow roasting tomatoes is that you can make even run-of-the-mill grocery store tomatoes taste great.  All you need are a couple of baskets of grape or cherry tomatoes, some cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, and that jar of Italian seasoning that’s been hanging out in the back of your spice cabinet.  See?  It’s simple.

Cut Tomatoes with Herbs and Olive Oil

While the idea of turning on the oven for three hours during the last heat wave of summer probably isn’t that appealing, the temperature will be so low that you won’t even notice it’s on.  Trust me, I did it yesterday.  And yes, we really are having a heat wave here in Southern California.

Tomatoes after Roasting

It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to have any leftovers, but the tomatoes can be stored with a bit of olive oil in a covered container in the refrigerator.  The garlic cloves can be peeled and eaten (mmmm…roasted garlic…) or just tossed in with the tomatoes for extra flavor.  But again, make sure everything stays refrigerated if you aren’t going to eat them immediately.  But, you will eat them immediately.

Tomatoes in Jar

My absolute favorite way to eat these tomatoes is on bruschetta smeared with goat cheese.  If you’re in search of a simple appetizer that will completely blow your guests away, here it is.

Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

Now these tomatoes are certainly not my idea.  There are tons of recipes for slow-roasted tomatoes floating around out there and really, I suggest you customize this to suit your own taste.  The version I like comes from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, so be sure to head over there to read about her gorgeous tomatoes and gorgeous new baby, before making some of your own.

Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Cherry, grape or pear tomatoes (or whatever tiny tomatoes you prefer)
Garlic cloves, unpeeled
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Combination of dried Italian herbs (such as fennel, oregano, basil, or thyme)*

1. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and heat oven to 225 degrees.

2. Cut enough tomatoes to fill the sheet pan (about 2 small baskets should do the trick) and place them cut-side up on the parchment paper.  Scatter a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves throughout the tomatoes.

3. Drizzle olive oil all over the tomatoes, then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

4. Mix together some of your favorite dried Italian herbs (or just use a commercial blend) and measure out about 2 teaspoons of the mixture. Grind the herbs into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle then sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes.

5. Bake tomatoes at 225 degrees for 3-4 hours, or until they have shriveled but still contain a bit of moisture inside.  The time will depend on the size of your tomatoes, so start checking early.

6. Let cool and eat immediately or store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  The garlic cloves can be peeled and eaten or stored in the jar with the tomatoes for a few days, refrigerated.

Recipes Notes: *I really like to include a good amount of fennel seed in my herb mixture.  Even if you think you don’t like fennel, you might enjoy it here.  I like to grind the herbs into a powder before sprinkling over the tomatoes, especially if using fennel seed and/or rosemary.  But, it’s completely optional.  I generally combine five or six different dry herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and fennel.  Use as many or as few as you like.  You might even try leaving the herbs out completely.

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60 Comments
  1. Phillip

    lovely!

    6:29 pm  Sep 22nd, 2009
  2. Theteachercooks

    Great way to prepare tomatoes. Will be trying this soon.

    7:09 pm  Sep 22nd, 2009
  3. Ashley

    This looks divine! I’m not a fan of fennel, but it’s on my list of things that I want to try to like. Maybe this will be the one to get me started!

    7:10 pm  Sep 22nd, 2009
  4. Southern Grace Gourmet

    I love this recipe, can’t wait to try. I am a big tomato fan! Gorgeous photo, saw it on food porn daily.

    8:42 pm  Sep 22nd, 2009
  5. Gretchen

    This is perfect for my garden harvest, as this year the big tomatoes are few and the cherry tomatoes are legion! Today I made cherry tomato soup and after the next picking it will be slow-roasted “cherries.” Thanks!

    8:51 pm  Sep 22nd, 2009
  6. heidikins

    Oh goodness, these look absolutely divine!! Swoon!

    xox

    8:56 pm  Sep 22nd, 2009
  7. Jess

    Ah, yes. ‘Tis the season for roasted tomatoes. I made my first batch of the year earlier this month. Like you, I always have big plans for saving at least a jarful in the fridge to enjoy later on. And like you, I find that that jar is empty in no time!

    5:29 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  8. Kalyn

    Great photos! I agree, there is nothing that tastes much better than slow-roasted tomatoes. They’re just perfect.

    7:19 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  9. Elizabeth

    Oh those are divine Nicole! I love throwing some heirloom cherrys in the toaster oven at eating them with greens!!

    7:36 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  10. Nicole

    oh I love doing that and tossing them into some pasta or some spagetti squash.

    7:59 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  11. Devany

    Nicole, this is one of my favorite things to do with tomatoes. When my kids were little they at them so fast I could not keep them in stock and they would frown at a sliced tomato on their plate, so I called them red zingers and they did nor realize what they were really eating. I like doing Romas too even though they are a little larger and meatier, when caramelization takes place on their surface the flavors become deep and velvety and just a tiny bit of crunch around the edges and then they virtually explode in your mouth with a concentrated tomato concert. The Bruschetta idea is also great… good way to use that lucious Italian Bread we’ve been making!

    9:35 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  12. Thérèse-Marie

    I did a pile of these the other day without the garlic…
    and you are right, they didn’t last very long.
    Next batch gets the garlic…

    9:52 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  13. Lisa

    Looks deeeelish…. Question, why do some people call for cut side up – some cut side down? Make any difference?

    10:43 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  14. Sophia

    This is CRAZY attractive! Such clean, simple ingredients, and that’s all you need to make this really shine! Wow!

    10:59 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  15. Chris

    I agree – noting better than roasted tomatoes. Or really any tomatoes during summer really. My favorite thing in the world is a tomato sandwich – garlic aioli, sliced heirloom tomatoes of all different colors and a drizzle of good balsamic on french bread. Nothing better!

    10:59 am  Sep 23rd, 2009
  16. Sandy

    Looks good! I saw the the photo of flickr, and had to come and read about it. Did you grow the tomatoes?

    2:30 pm  Sep 23rd, 2009
  17. Louise

    Loved reading this, particularly because I did my third batch of slow-roasted tomatoes overnight last night. Have to get back to the farmers’ market this weekend for more to roast.

    8:24 pm  Sep 23rd, 2009
  18. penstalker

    Looks good! The tomatoes are just the thing for a nice meal this weekend! Gotta try this! The photos you posted are also mouth-watering!! :D

    8:39 pm  Sep 23rd, 2009
  19. ATigerintheKitchen

    What gorgeous pictures! I’m always on the lookout for easy but impressive appetizers. Thanks for sharing….

    10:44 pm  Sep 23rd, 2009
  20. Justine Frederick

    Wow Nichole this looks amazing. Dave is over in Afghanistan right now and I am spending a fortune on already prepared Pomodorini. Hugs from Sicilia

    8:56 am  Sep 24th, 2009
  21. as melhores receitas

    adorei seu blog(site),gostei muito mesmo…nw se esqueça de visitar o receitas e cia…obrigado.

    9:29 am  Sep 24th, 2009
  22. Middle Seat Gourmet

    Those look delicious. You take such beautiful photos.

    8:13 am  Sep 25th, 2009
  23. The Purple Foodie

    WOW this is jut lovely, Nicole. Now you’ve tempted me to make these. I can imagine how delicious this would be with goat’s cheese. It’s a pity it is so highly priced here :(

    11:54 am  Sep 25th, 2009
  24. kickpleat

    I’ve never tried making any and now you’ve got me more than intrigued. Amazing photos.

    11:50 am  Sep 26th, 2009
  25. kellypea

    mmm…yummy! I never really got enough tomatoes with my scrawny plants to do anything like this. Great recipe. I’m drooling!

    5:39 am  Sep 28th, 2009
  26. Katie

    Thank you so much for posting these. I had to make them the minute I saw your great photos and read your great description. They were so good. You were so right about them not lasting. My house smelled so wonderful while they were cooking that I had to make another batch the next day.

    5:13 pm  Sep 28th, 2009
  27. Sara

    My mom made these this weekend for appetizers at a birthday dinner. They were *fantastic* – even my boyfriend who *hates* tomatoes, ate them and loved them. (It took some coaxing, but he was glad he was brave!) I can’t wait to make some of these!

    10:13 am  Sep 29th, 2009
  28. Hannah

    Oh my goodness, this looks so delicious!

    10:43 am  Sep 29th, 2009
  29. Shwetha

    This looks delicious!
    I was looking through your blog and all your pictures are beautiful. Your home must smell divine all the time!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m a newbie food blogger and I’m glad I came across your space. I’ve added you to my side bar.:)

    9:08 pm  Sep 29th, 2009
  30. katrina

    Such good advice to simplify ! I admit to becoming enchanted with complex recipes ( just to test my skills, I think), it lately is busting my budget. When I saw this post, I had just received several baskets of fresh cherry tomatoes – perfect timing,
    I can’t wait to make these! Even better, I can’t wait to EAT these!

    4:38 am  Sep 30th, 2009
  31. cheffresco

    I’ve never thought of making my own roasted tomatoes – these look like they turned out perfectly! I like your idea about simplifying :)

    6:32 pm  Sep 30th, 2009
  32. Jessica

    Have you considered submitting something to Brighter Planet’s Mastering the Art of Sustainable Cooking Contest? They’re looking for stories about how people can reduce their impact while cooking, and some of your techniques – using seasonal and local ingredients, saving leftovers for another dish – fit right in with their tips.
    Check it out here: http://blog.brighterplanet.com/sustainable-cooking/

    12:04 pm  Oct 2nd, 2009
  33. Dena

    This looks delicious. My mother showed me how to roast tomatoes this summer. I’ll admit, I was a skeptic at first. It really was worth the wait.

    6:07 am  Oct 4th, 2009
  34. Tamara

    We are lucky enough to still be getting loads of tomatoes from our garden, I have started to make some wonderfuly rich tomato puree from some of my slow roasted tomatoes. I just can’t get enough of them. Your recipie is slightly differnt to mine as the tomatoes are a little drier, I’ll be giving this recipie ago now too, Thank you.

    This week I have used the tomato puree to make a really rich tomato & coriander dal..

    5:38 am  Oct 6th, 2009
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  36. Graciela

    these are delicious!!! made them twice already, last night they were gone during dinner…. a bowl of baby greens with some olive oil, balsamico, sheep cheese, the roasted tomatoes and garlic on top – what a dish!!

    8:51 pm  Oct 12th, 2009
  37. Andrea

    These are great. I made a slightly different recipe adding fresh thyme and a little balsamic vinegar. Then I mixed them with pasta, or put them on a turkey sandwich on pumpernickel bread. They don’t last long.

    2:46 pm  Oct 16th, 2009
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  40. Carla McGarvie

    Saw this entry back in the summer and thought about making them right away but alas am just now getting organized. Serving them tomorrow at Food Friday, julienned atop warm mushrooms salad and with goat cheese and crostini. Thanks for the inspiration!

    6:18 pm  Feb 4th, 2010
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    9:34 pm  Feb 17th, 2010
  44. Sweet Harvest

    Nicole, seeing this post kind of brings a tear (of joy) to my eye. Just this morning I was giddy in the garden seeing how close my four cherry tomato plants are to being ready to enjoy! They are all covered in small green beauties! I few more weeks and I’ll be knee deep in them and I will most certainly be making this recipe. Thanks so much! I’m looking forward to trying them with goats cheese as you suggested.

    5:53 am  Jun 3rd, 2010
  45. GretchenJoanna

    It was this recipe that was my first education in how eminently usable cherry tomatoes are for cooking. Last summer I ended up with red, orange and green cherry tomatoes, so everything I made with them was especially pretty. I went on to make a cherry tomato-basil salad with goat cheese, and cherry tomato soup. This spring I’ve planted red, yellow, green *and* black cherry tomatoes, so I’ll be ready to turn out colorful dishes again. Your gift goes on giving.

    7:26 am  Jun 3rd, 2010
  46. Gardengirl

    I have been making roasted Tomatoes for years but never thought to can them.
    Any special instructions here? I would love to can some to have on a cold winter day.

    7:28 pm  Jun 13th, 2010
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  48. Allison

    How would those freeze? I would love to give this for a holiday gift.

    12:21 pm  Aug 25th, 2010
  49. GretchenJoanna

    I froze some last summer–it was hard to stop eating them and bag up a few!–and they were still wonderful several weeks later when I took them out to serve them to company.

    12:48 pm  Aug 25th, 2010
  50. Nicole

    Allison: From what I’ve read, they freeze really really well! I keep meaning to freeze a batch, but I always end up eating them before I get a chance :-)

    1:24 pm  Aug 25th, 2010
  51. Tiffiny Felix

    I’m so excited to try making these. They sound so divine! :)

    11:49 am  Sep 18th, 2010
  52. Amy

    Have had these several times and they are oh, so YUMMY!!!! Making them to go along side a pasta dish. My pasta dish calls for swiss chard, and this will by my first time ever using that produce!!! Should be divinve!

    11:19 am  Jul 2nd, 2011
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  54. Tiffany Youngren

    This is fantastic (great pictures, too). I cannot wait to try it!!
    ~ Tiffany

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  57. Rachel

    Currently have a batch of these in the oven. Great tossed with pasta, fresh spinach and occasionally grated cheese! Yum!

    2:35 pm  Sep 12th, 2012
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  59. Stuart

    These are so delicious. And so easy. We have jars and jars in our pantry now, and people usually end up taking one with them when they’ve come to visit.

    2:52 am  Aug 6th, 2013
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