As I entered my kitchen the other morning, I was startled to find that the whole countertop was full of freshly picked cherry tomatoes. Someone was certainly busy in the garden early in the morning!
Our bumper crop of perfectly round red cherry tomatoes actually started from seedlings that we found growing in the compost. The hardy little plants popped up everywhere in the garden soil, so my husband collected all of the sturdy plants and placed them in their own section of the garden. We knew they were tomato plants, but we had no idea what variety and were excited to find out. Well, now we know……Zebra Cherry Tomatoes.
I couldn’t resist popping a few of them in my mouth along with my morning coffee, and even though that doesn’t sound appealing, I can assure you they were deliciously sweet. Not your average tomato that has been shipped hundreds of miles by truck and artificially ripened. Oh no, these little beauties shout summer, ripened only by the hot August sun. My dilemma though was what was I going to do with so many? I certainly didn’t want any to go to waste.
So I got busy and started making cherry tomato salsa, then moved on to fresh pasta sauce which enabled me to utilize the gorgeous sweet basil growing in a huge planter on the deck. Since I seemed to have an abundance still left, I decided to try oven roasting the tomatoes to bring out their intense flavour and sweetness. Later I could enjoy the tomatoes as an appetizer with bread and goat cheese, or as a topping on our homemade pizzas. To preserve these delicious tomatoes even longer, I froze some for later use, as well as packed a few in olive oil and placed them in the refrigerator.
It’s a pretty simple procedure to roast cherry tomatoes. Basically, you cut them in half, then place cut-side up on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle on the salt. Feel free to add a few herbs. Once you try slow roasted tomatoes, I’m sure you will agree it was worth the two-hour wait, and I’m also pretty sure you won’t just eat one!
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
- 2-3 pounds cherry tomatoes cut in half
- Line one or two baking trays with parchment paper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Dried herbs (optional)
- Arrange tomatoes in a single layer onto the baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt over. Add herbs if using.
- Place in the oven and roast for 2-3 hours or until the tomatoes start to brown lightly.
- The roasting time will depend on the size of your tomatoes. Zebra cherry tomatoes seem to be a little larger than most so may take longer to roast than yours. Please check fairly regularly to see how they are doing. The tomatoes should be wrinkled but still have moisture.
- Enjoy right out of the oven or let cool.
- Slow roasted cherry tomatoes may also be placed in a jar and covered with olive oil. Refrigerate (when I did this the olive oil solidified; just leave out at room temperature for a bit before use)
- If you want to enjoy these tomatoes during the winter months simply place the tray with the cooled tomatoes in the freezer for several hours. Remove tomatoes and place them in a freezer bag. Return the bag to the freezer.