The secret to the sweetest, most delectable roasted tomatoes is high heat contrary to many low temp methods. You’ll find a hundred and one ways to use these, I promise. They bring an deep, rich tomato flavor to soups and stews that you just won’t get with canned tomatoes.
Make a big batch and store in the fridge for 7-10 days or freeze for up to six months. They add a delicious layer to soups, sauces, stews and spreads. It’s also a great way to use extra garden tomatoes up at the end of summer when they all seem to come ripe at the same time.
Tomatoes are everywhere in Greece. You’ll see apartment verandas and rooftops all over Athens dotted with small container plants of tomatoes and herbs. It’s rare to find a balcony without fruits or vegetables growing on it even in the most cosmopolitan areas. Many homes in the suburbs, towns, and villages have small garden plots and weekend community gardening has become popular recently with urbanites. For those who have a bigger garden plot/lawn area, they may need some assistance with keeping it in check, especially if they are growing a lot. Checking out companies such as https://www.lawncare.net/service-areas/virginia/ can help frequent ‘gardeners’ keep on top of their areas so it yields a better result than they initially got. This is one just north of Athens, Ecoktima.
When I have to use store-bought tomatoes, I try to find vine ripe. They’re definitely more expensive but I think they’re worth it. For best roasting, I like ones that are not too hard and not too soft, but just right. Here are some beauties I found this week.
Something to mention and my father always make a point of – I don’t season the tomatoes while cooking. This way, they can be used in any dish which you then can season as a whole. I use them regularly in lentil soup and my favorite Better Than Ketchup spread and – ok, too many to mention here. I’d love to hear how you like to use them!
Try these few easy steps and let me know what you think?
- Cut tomatoes in half through the middle and slice an ‘x’ just through the skin on bottom of each (for easier peeling)
- Place cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Brush generously with olive oil
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
- Allow to cool and gently peel skins away from meat of tomatoes, starting from the x’s cut on bottoms
- Store, covered in the refrigerator for 7-10 days or cover in olive oil and they’ll keep for up to a month
Freezing is a good way to have them at hand whenever you need them. I freeze 2 cup batches in zip close plastic bags and simply thaw for 15 minutes in a bowl of cold water before using. You can certainly microwave them, I’m just not a fan of that method myself.
A nice thing, and something you may not know, about Greek gardening is that men are often the gardeners. My grandfather settled in a suburb just north of Boston and had a lot of land a couple of towns over with a huge garden. He grew all sorts of fruit trees and vegetables. The family called it “the farm’.
The Farm became a gathering place for his six children and their families with a small summer shack and a long table outside. Sadly, I never knew my Papouli as he passed away before I was born so the farm is only known to me in story.