Ever since a friend shared her secret for slow-roasted tomatoes, the fall harvest hasn’t been the same. Instead of spending hours over a hot stove slipping the skins off tomatoes to get them ready for canning, I simply let my oven do all the work.

Wash tomatoes

Wash tomatoes to remove any dust and dirt before preparing for roasting.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

Core tomatoes

A tomato corer is a handy gadget for removing stem cores with a quick twist.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

Cut tomatoes

Cut tomatoes into equal-size quarters or eighths so they’ll roast evenly.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

Tomatoes in roasting pan

Place tomatoes in a single layer in the pan and drizzle with olive oil. It’s okay to crowd them – they’ll shrink when they cook.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

Roasted tomatoes

Tomatoes will be ready when they’re still a bit juicy and have lightly browned edges.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

Slow roasting brings the natural sugars of the tomato to the surface and produces such a deep, intense flavor there’s no comparison to the canned kind. Besides making quick work of a chore I used to dread, fewer tomatoes are wasted because they don’t have to be blemish-free to be roasted. I simply cut away any soft or bad spots and put them in the roasting pan.

Roasted tomatoes freeze well and are delicious in all kinds of tomato-based recipes – from pasta and pizza sauces to soups, stews and chili. I love opening the freezer and seeing all those neatly stacked packages of roasted tomatoes because they remind me that summer’s flavor is always within reach.

Here’s what you need to get started

  • Several pounds of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (optional)
  • Any other goodies from the garden you’d care to use. You can create different flavor combinations by adding peeled garlic cloves, peppers or fresh herbs, like basil or rosemary.

Slow-roasting Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Rinse tomatoes well and dry.
  3. Remove stems and cores.
  4. Cut tomatoes into equal-size quarters (eighths for large tomatoes).
  5. Place in a single layer in a roasting pan.
  6. Drizzle with 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  7. Add optional fresh ingredients.
  8. Place in preheated oven and roast slowly for 5-6 hours. (Roasting time will vary depending on tomato size.)
  9. Remove from oven when tomatoes have lightly crisped edges.
  10. Let cool before storing in refrigerator containers or quart-size freezer bags. (Refrigerated tomatoes will stay fresh for several days; frozen for 6-9 months – if you can resist eating them for that long!)

One of my favorite ways to eat roasted tomatoes is right after they’ve cooled slightly. Slather a spoonful on a slice of thick, crusty bread and enjoy!

And here’s a quick way to turn a bag of slow-roasted tomatoes into a delicious pizza sauce. (Be sure to let frozen tomatoes come to room temperature before using.)

Easy Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 quart slow-roasted tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Chop garlic in a food processor until minced. Add tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and pulse/chop to combine. Let machine run and slowly add olive oil until blended.

Sauce will be thick and fairly chunky. Add more olive oil for a thinner consistency. Spread evenly over a prepared or homemade pizza crust. Layer with your choice of toppings; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake according to your recipe or package instructions.