After 10-plus months of waiting, tomato season arrives. And as soon as it does, gardeners complain that they don’t know what to do with all their tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes, especially, seem to ripen faster than we can eat them. Easy-to-grow varieties such as Sweet 100s and Sungolds can reach heights of 10 feet or more by late summer, even in pots. Given enough direct sunlight (at least six hours a day) and plenty of water, a single plant may produce 20 to 30 pounds of fruit during the season.
Good for you, if an overabundance of cherry tomatoes is your biggest problem. Most of your friends won’t have any sympathy. But I have a solution. When you have tired of eating raw cherry tomatoes in salads and as snacks, you can roast them.
It’s easy. Toss a pint or two with a little bit of olive oil and some sea salt on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook in a 350-degree oven until they are soft and a little bit wrinkled.
Roasted tomatoes are transformed in the oven, acquiring intense umami flavor. As their sugars caramelize, they become both sweeter and more savory than raw tomatoes, with a jammy rather than juicy texture. Use them warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate them for up to a week to use in a variety of quick dishes. Here are some of my favorites:
Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta: Toast 1⁄2 cup of fresh bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 minced anchovies and 1 minced clove garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Toss with 12 ounces cooked pasta, 2 or more tablespoons olive oil, 1 pint roasted cherry tomatoes, a sprinkling of parsley, and salt and pepper.
Roasted Tomato and Bocconcini Salad: Combine a pint of roasted cherry tomatoes with 8 ounces bocconcini, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1⁄2 cup torn basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste.
Grilled Vegetables with Roasted Tomato Dressing: Puree 1 cup roasted tomatoes, 1⁄2 clove garlic, 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender. Pour over grilled zucchini and eggplant slices.
Roasted Tomato, Bacon, and Lettuce Bruschetta: Brush slices of country bread with olive oil and grill. Top with shredded lettuce, roasted tomatoes and crumbled bacon.
Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes: Top individual servings of polenta with roasted tomatoes, a few slices of grilled sausage and a sprinkling of feta or ricotta salata cheese.
Roasted Tomato Tart: Roll out a 14-ounce piece of all-butter puff pastry so it is a 9-inch-by-11-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Gently press a pint of roasted cherry tomatoes into the pastry, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle 1⁄3 cup grated Pecorino Romano, fresh thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Bake in a 400- degree oven until the edges are golden brown and the pastry is puffed, 20 to 25 minutes.
FRITTATA WITH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
1⁄4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, and salt to taste on the baking sheet and bake until soft and slightly shriveled, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Preheat broiler and set rack about 6 inches from heat source.
3. Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large, ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes.
4. Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper to taste. Pour evenly over the mixture in the skillet and stir gently to distribute the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the goat cheese. Cook, using a thin spatula to loosen the bottom from the pan occasionally, until the frittata is almost set in center and lightly browned on bottom, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Transfer the skillet to broiler and cook, watching carefully to avoid burning, until the top is dry and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide the frittata onto a cutting board, let stand 5 minutes to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.