Oven-Cooked Tomatoes

Like the oven-dried fruit, this technique concentrates the flavors and sugars of tomatoes by getting rid of a lot of the irrigation water. They will never be as good as the tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils outside of Naples where the whole plant, full of ripe tomatoes, is pulled up and hung upside-down on a south-facing wall for a few days. But these come close.

Ingredients

  • 10 ripe tomatoes (red or yellow), cut in half across the equator
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh rosemary and thyme leaves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons fennel seed, toasted, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

Put all ingredients in a bowl, toss gently, and leave 30 minutes to marinate.

Put a fine-mesh cake rack in a baking tray with a 1-inch lip, and lay the tomatoes out, cut side down, ½ inch apart.

Put in the oven and leave 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. Take out and let cool. Refrigerate or store in olive oil in the refrigerator.

Variation

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

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