From the day I plant my tomato seedlings, I check them each evening. Initially, they offer nothing but a thriving mass of vines and leaves. But by August it’s sweet, juicy tomato heaven. Any we can’t eat, I oven-bake and keep in oil. The return for little effort is incredible – the candy-like flavours become concentrated and it makes pizzas, pasta or salads sing. Contentment.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 180 F. Slice tomatoes (sandwich thickness will work) and lay on a baking sheet, they can be close together but not touching. Use two sheets if you want to do a larger batch.
Step 2: Drizzle tomatoes with enough olive oil that they shine and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (start with no more than a teaspoon of each). You really need a light hand with seasoning as the flavours will concentrate as moisture is released.
Step 3: Check that your oven has reached the desired temperature, and bake for 3-4 hours to get an intense flavour and a tender texture. Keep them in the oven even longer if you want drier, chewier tomatoes (you might need to double cooking time depending on size and juiciness).
Step 4: Store the oven-baked tomatoes in a Mason jar of olive oil, and add some basil leaves, a sprig of rosemary, thyme or even peeled garlic cloves. Don’t throw out the juices on the tray – they’re perfect in pasta or drizzled on grilled bread.