Oven-Cooked Tomatoes

Like the Oven-Dried Pears, this technique concentrates the flavors and sugars of tomatoes by getting rid of a lot of that irrigation water. They will never be as good as the tomatoes grown outside of Naples in its volcanic soils, when the whole tomato plant, full of ripe tomatoes, is pulled up and hung upside-down on a south-facing wall for a few days—but they are close.

Ingredients

  • 10 ripe tomatoes (red or yellow), cut crosswise in half
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed, toasted, chopped

Method

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, gently toss, and marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Put a fine-mesh cake rack in a baking sheet and lay the tomatoes out, cut face down, ½ inch apart on the rack.

Roast in the oven for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Remove and let cool. Refrigerate or store in olive oil in the refrigerator.

Variation

If you have a smoker, cook the tomatoes in that. Then puree them in fish or chicken stock (or water) and mount them with butter to end up with one of the most haunting sauces ever.

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