How to Turn Any Tomato (Even a Sad Grocery Store One) Into Everything Delicious
I am not a fan of raw tomatoes. Even the ripest, freshest ones from the garden fail to woo me. But I love a cooked tomato in pretty much any possible application. Soup, stew, pasta sauce, on pizza, it all works for me. I sauté my bruschetta topping, and roast my salsa, and I feel they are both frankly the better for it. And one of my favorite ways to prepare any fresh tomato is to slow-roast it and make what I like to call smoosh.
Meet the slow-roasted tomato smoosh
Smoosh is my basis for all sorts of other dishes. Here's just a sampling of ways to use smooshed slow-roasted tomato:
- Add a bit of water, stock, or dairy and whizz it into soup in seconds.
- Keep it chunky and add roasted onion, serrano, lime juice, and garlic for salsa, or olive oil and basil for bruschetta.
- Strain it and season with salt and pepper for pizza sauce, or heat in a pan and add some pasta water for instant marinara.
- Puree it and make Bloody Mary mix.
- Serve as-is either warm or with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream and some chopped fresh mint for grown-ups.
- Add alphabet noodles or cooked rice for kids.
- Stir in toasted croutons and drizzle with olive oil and grated Parmesan for a classic Tuscan bread and tomato soup.
- Add fresh basil and garlic for a chunky pasta sauce.
- Add fresh or dried oregano for pizza sauce.
- Add chopped raw onion and cucumber and a dash of sherry vinegar for gazpacho.
How to make slow-roasted tomato smoosh
The best part is that you can make a big batch of slow-roasted tomato smoosh and freeze it or if you really want to get fancy, you can add some citric acid and can it. The slow-roasting works for any tomato, so if you garden or shop the farmers' markets, you are all set. But it also can salvage sad grocery store tomatoes, which means I can make it all year long.
Here's all you do!
Slow Roasted Tomato Smoosh
Makes about 3 quarts
8 lbs. tomatoes (can be all one type or a mix—ripe is good, but not essential)
1 large sweet onion or 4 large shallots, diced
2 tablespoons dried herbes de Provence (optional)
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch red pepper flake (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 250°.
2. Cut tomatoes in half, toss in olive oil to coat, and arrange cut side down on oiled sheet pans. Sprinkle onion or shallot on top of the tomatoes. Distribute the herbs over the top, and a liberal dose of salt and pepper. Add a pinch of red pepper flake if you like a bit of heat.
3. Roast for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, until skins are loose, and the flesh is very soft. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Peel skins off tomatoes and discard (or save to dehydrate for tomato flakes). Dump the contents of the sheet pans into a large bowl or pot, and using an immersion blender, blend to your preferred chunkiness. Can also be done in batches in your blender, or by hand with a potato masher. I like to keep it chunky and then break it down more as needed for recipes. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Pro tip: Grocery store tomatoes might need a pinch or two of sugar to liven them up.
Slow-roasted tomato smoosh freezes beautifully, can be canned if you are ambitious, and lasts up to a week in the refrigerator.