I can't think of a lot of things that are better after they collapse, shrivel up, and leak, but roasted tomatoes give fresh ones a run for their money. Don't worry -- I won't write about pus-filled tomatoes again. That didn't go over so well the last time and I have, for the time being at least, learned my lesson.
You're all a bunch of wimps.
Seriously, I know this is a food blog, but can't we have a little fun? If I have to write about everything being plump and gorgeous and perfect, and airbrush all my photos so they glisten and shine, I might as well give up blogging altogether. There's raw content here, friends, and I suggest you buck up and deal with it.
I think I need some coffee.
Anyway, roasted tomatoes are not all that pretty. They drool everywhere, and if you forget to line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment you'll be sorry come washing-time. But I can't think of a better way to preserve your summer tomato crop for at least a week or two than to concentrate their flavor through roasting, and to layer the floppy, shriveled rounds in an olive-oil-topped jar. Oh, and if you roast them with garlic, all the better. Want pasta? Boil it up, slap on a few garlic-roasted tomatoes and a spoonful of oil from the jar, and you're done. Instant sauce.
Three cheers for what's real, even if it's ugly. No Botox here. They're wrinkled. They're proud. Get used to it.
Recipe for Garlicky Roasted Tomatoes
The following technique was inspired by the Oven-Roasted Fresh Plum Tomatoes in Mark Bittman's excellent book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. In my version, I fill the cavities with a shocking amount of garlic and don't bother to slip off the tomato skins post-roasting. These are terrific in countless ways: with pastas or other grains, in sandwiches, or even, might I suggest, as a savory crepe filling with scrambled eggs.
Yields about 30 roasted tomato halves
2 pounds small-medium tomatoes (I used a mixture of San Marzanos and Romas), halved
3-4 cloves garlic, depending on how many vampires you hope to keep away
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the core and seeds of each tomato half with a serrated grapefruit spoon or small knife. Discard. (This step isn't strictly necessary -- a few seeds can remain -- but it does give a nice deep cavity to fill with garlic and oil.) Place tomato halves cut-side up on the lined baking sheet.
Mash garlic with salt in a mortar and pestle until completely crushed and combined. Drizzle in the olive oil and continue mixing until evenly incorporated.
Use a small spoon to distribute the garlic-oil mixture evenly among the tomato cavities. Sprinkle with black pepper.
Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until tomatoes shrivel up considerably, release their juices, and just begin to blacken at the edges. Remove from the oven. Serve warm, immediately, or let cool.
Once completely cooled, tomatoes can be layered in glass jars. Fill jars with olive oil and keep refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to a week.