Winter citrus. It's what every food blog/site does not stop raving about between December- February. Oranges, grapefruit, and lemons are all at their juiciest and sweetest during the winter months and so my RSS and Instagram feeds turn into a virtual juicer cacophony of the stuff. Here's the thing- I love citrus as much as the next guy. Lemons are great! Oranges are awesome. Sugar on a grapefruit?! Revolutionary. Honestly though, there's only so much excitement over "winter citrus" that I can muster before I start getting cranky about the whole thing. Just because it's in season, does that mean I have to lose my head over it??
The reality is, winter has me craving the same thing I crave year round. My one true fruit love- the tomato. Unfortunately, this time of year the tomato options flat out suck. My regular grocery has them but they taste like wet, slimy, corrugated cardboard. The only sweet, delicious tomatoes to be found are at organic groceries and Whole Foods- completely not in my budget right now. Planning a wedding while living in NYC means pinching every. single. penny. So what is a girl to do?
Roast your tomatoes. It is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to get great tomato flavor out of dull, cheap, not in season, grocery tomatoes.
Enter roasted tomatoes. This is the kind of recipe that calls for almost no effort and reaps bountiful rewards. The low temp of the oven means you can walk away and live your life for a few hours while the fruit releases a depth of flavor and sweetness that will help you hold out until the real thing is in season again. (Bonus: It will also make your apartment smell like the cozy Italian kitchen you never grew up with.)
Make a huge batch all at once and put them in a jar in the back of the fridge to throw on salads, sandwiches, or whatever you like to throw tomatoes on. (Freeze them for up to 6 months if you have the space.) Alternatively, put these in the food processor and work them into your next pasta dish for a sauce so tasty Paul Newman will start haunting your dreams asking for the recipe.
February is cold, grey, and generally sucks. Indulge your cravings. Don't spend a ton of money. Roast tomatoes.
Roasted Winter Tomatoes
- 3 lbs tomatoes (or more!) whole, sliced in half, quartered, or chopped.
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- olive oil for drizzling
- 1 tbsp. any course salt (does not have to be from the sea. can be from the kosher)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. dry parsley leaves*
- 1 tsp. dry basil leaves*
- Place whole, sliced, quartered tomatoes in a baking sheet.
- Toss with herbs, olive oil, sugar.
- Bake at 250F for 3-4 hours OR bake at 400F for 1 hour.
Once your tomatoes are roasted there are a myriad of ways you can use them:
- put them on a sandwich
- in a food processor make tomato/carrot/celery juice OR homemade bloody mary mix
- toss in a salad instead of fresh tomatoes for extra flavor
- make pasta sauce, recipe below:
Whole Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce
- 2-4 whole roasted tomatoes, skins peeled, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1-2 carrots, chopped
- 2 cans tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. basil
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- Sautee carrots and onions until fragrant.
- Add chopped tomatoes and their juices.
- Stir in tomato paste and spices.
- Simmer on low heat for 35-40 min.
The best thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it however you like. The idea is to let the tomatoes release flavors in the low, slow, and steady heat that they wouldn't otherwise. If you prefer more/less spices (rosemary, oregano, thyme, etc.) go ahead and add them, experiment!