I know you have a bunch of tomatoes sitting on your kitchen counter right now, making you feel guilty each time you walk by them as they slowly soften into spotty mush.
Unless, wait: am I the only one who does that?
Tomato Season (it deserves to be capitalized) is my favorite season, right behind my beloved Strawberry Season (also capitalized, because duh). Our dad kept a garden when we were growing up, and every August and early September, we’d find tomato-onion-and-mayo sandwiches on the table for lunch, and often sat down to quick BLTs for dinner. When our countertops would begin to teem with them, Dad would give tomatoes away to neighbors with pride, knowing they’d be just as precious to them. There was nothing my parents looked forward to more in the summers than those sun-warmed tomatoes, freshly picked, sliced open and sprinkled with salt. It rubbed off on us.
I had a garden in our last house, a good-sized one with tomatoes every year that the backyard groundhog and I would fight to get to first. I’ve yet to plant one here, though, so I rely on our farm market and CSA to send them my way. Some weeks, I’ll admit, there are so many we can’t get to them fast enough to use them fresh (sorry, Mom and Dad!). But I started using this trick that Molly Wizenberg describes in her first book, A Homemade Life–a hands-off non-recipe she learned from her own father–that takes even the most forlorn-looking tomatoes on my counter and turns them into ruby-red gold you wouldn’t think about wasting.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of tomatoes you use for this: San Marzano work well, but you can use cut-up beefsteak or grape tomatoes, too (leave these last ones whole if you use them). With very little effort, you’ll end up with sweet-salty pieces of goodness that you’ll use for everything: throw them into omelettes, use a food processor to chop them up and make a pasta sauce or soup, or add them to salads. Or! Turn them into hors d’oeuvres by toasting baguette slices and topping them with a smear of ricotta, drizzle of olive oil, and the tomatoes. Honestly, if your family is like mine, half of them will disappear from the baking sheet before they’ve even had a chance to cool, but it’s good to have options.
from A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg
Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Use your hand to toss the tomato halves with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil until they’re evenly covered. Spread the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, then coriander (Wizenberg suggests a generous pinch of coriander each for 4-6 tomatoes, but I use more).
Roast in the oven for 4-6 hours until tomatoes have shrunk to about half their size. Let cool on the pan.
Once cool, eat like candy or add as you’d like to eggs, sauces, soups, pasta, or salads.