Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oven Roasted Tomatoes


I don't think I've ever been good at math or science, but cooking is something that appeals to me greatly. While cooking doesn't require much in the way of algebra or periodic tables, it does involve chemistry. When I cook I really try to learn what is actually happening in a dish. How do the ingredients interact and what is happening as everything is exposed to heat, salt, sugar, etc?

These oven roasted tomatoes are a nice science experiment. The salt draws water out initially. Eventually, the sugar melts and the oil and balsamic vinaigrette diffuse into the tomato. The heat causes the romas to caramelize, which adds more sweetness. Also, water evaporates during the long cooking process, leaving concentrated flavors. It's all pretty great, and in this case - simple. SCIENCE!

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
4 servings

8 roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed (but not the core)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Arrange tomatoes on a sheet pan lined with foil. Drizzle the oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, a small pinch of salt and some pepper over the tomatoes.

3. Roast for 2 hours.

4. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Because the tomatoes are so sweet, it's great to pair them with something savory or sharp. I served these tomatoes with grilled elk and Roquefort sauce. The sharpness of the cheese contrasted nicely with the sweet tomatoes.



  1. I've done similar things on my charcoal grill using indirect heat. You're right about the carmelization of the tomatoes and the concentrations of flavors. I've also stuffed the tomatoes with pistacio pesto and grilled them in the same way. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

  2. Oh man, that pest sounds sooo good. I will have to try that next time!

  3. Just be sure to use unsalted pistachios.

    Slight chance I might go caribou hunting in Alaska in August. If I get a caribou, we'll have to brain storm on how to get a few filets to you. I'm not even sure how I'd get any of it back to PA. Maybe I'd have to stay in AK until I finished off my caribou meat.

  4. Oh man, that would be awesome! I've shipped food before and have either done next day or two day air, packing the food in a cooler with dry ice. I could kick you back any funds via payal. :)

    I could see you up in AL, gorging on elk meet, not going home until you've had your fill. Ha!

  5. Excellent recipe. I've just tried it with a twist - place the seeds and pulp of the tomatoes in a sieve and collect the liquid. When the tomatoes are cooked scrape the oil mix from the sheet pan and mix with the raw liquid in a saucepan. Add a teaspoon of tomatoe puree and reduce on a low heat. Allow the sauce to cool and combine with the roasted tomatoes.

  6. Oh my gosh! That is brilliant. I bet it was so good!