This cherry tomato confit is sweet and easy and a lovely way of preserving all those Sun Golds you planted earlier this summer. Here’s how to make it.
This cherry tomato confit is inexplicably luxurious in taste and texture. Unlike oven-roasted tomatoes, which become shriveled, intense alter egos of their former selves, cherry tomato confit—which is simply cherry tomatoes gently poached in olive oil—relax into soft, tender, subtle submission. This is the recipe that you want when you’re endowed with an overwhelming abundance of desperately ripe summer tomatoes from the garden as well as when you buy woefully lackluster tomatoes from the store that you bought in the dead of winter to satisfy a craving. As with most things that are magnificently lovely, these take some time and a little effort. It’s worth it–Renee Schettler Rossi
☞ Table of Contents
How To Serve Cherry Tomato Confit
- Alongside cheese and crackers
- Gently smashed on crusty bread or crostini
- Tossed with pasta
- Savored straight from the spoon
- Piled atop grilled fish, chicken, or pork
- Spooned over vegetables
- The infused oil, too, can be harnessed in vinaigrettes or used as a finishing sauce for steamed fish or vegetables.
Cherry Tomato Confit
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes stemmed, preferably Sun Gold
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil or as needed
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
- 1/2 cup basil leaves and/or 3 fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water.
- Grab a sharp paring knife and score a small “X” in the bottom of each tomato. Plunge some of the tomatoes in the boiling water for 20 seconds, reach for a slotted spoon, and immediately transfer them to the ice water. Repeat, working in batches, until all the tomatoes have been blanched.
- Wait just until the cherry tomatoes are cool and then remove them from the ice water. With your fingers, gently slip the tomatoes out of their skins. [Editor’s Note: This is a touch tedious and is going to take some time. Consider it an opportunity to zen out to the repetitive, some would say meditative, action. It will be worth it.] Toss the tomato skins in the compost and place the tomatoes in a single layer in a baking dish or roasting pan, preferably one in which the tomatoes fit snugly. (An 8-by-11-inch baking dish should work well.) Pour as much olive oil as needed over the tomatoes to completely submerge them. Add the garlic, basil and/or thyme, if using, and salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. When the tomatoes are done, the oil will be hot but the tomatoes will remain vibrant and whole. Uncover and let the tomatoes cool completely in the oil.
- Gently transfer the cherry tomato confit, including the olive oil, garlic, and herbs, if using, into a 1-quart jar or other airtight container. Cover and stash the cherty tomato confit in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Each time you scoop some of the confit out to serve, you want to ensure that the remaining tomatoes are kept completely covered with olive oil, adding fresh olive oil if needed.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
OK, here’s the deal, even though it is slightly obnoxious peeling all those tomatoes, it’s worth it! In the past when I’ve roasted whole cherry tomatoes with the skins on, I find that you run the risk of biting into one and having hot juices squirt all over your mouth, but with the peeled ones there just wasn’t the danger of that happening, they actually melt in your mouth! This tomato confit is delicious. I could have eaten a bowlful of just this for lunch. I halved the recipe because I only had one pint of tomatoes, and it took me about 25 minutes to score, blanch, and peel the suckers, so double your time if you do the full recipe. I do think the practice of scoring an “x” in the bottom of the tomato could be revised to just make one slit. The “x” effectively divides the tomato skin into 4 sections, therefore it took me four tries to peel the skin off. I am thinking if you make just one slit in the bottom of the tomato the skin would only be divided into 2 pieces, which would make it easier to slip the peel off half the tomato at a time, speeding up the process a bit. I didn’t have any more tomatoes to check this out with but I suspect it would work. I did not use an ice-bath to cool the tomatoes, they are so small, and in the hot water so briefly that cold-tap water did the job just fine. I made myself an avocado toast for lunch, and spooned the tomatoes and oil on top, it was divine! For dinner I used the rest of them up by slow-roasting a small fillet of salmon in the same au gratin dish in which I roasted the tomatoes. I slipped the piece of fish under the tomatoes and oil and covered it with parchment paper to steam or poach in the oil. Really, I can’t think of a better way to enliven previously frozen salmon in winter when fresh just isn’t available. I do recommend that you make sure to include one of the optional herbs listed. I used fresh thyme and it was lovely.
Part of me wishes I’d had this recipe last summer when my CSA was giving me a weekly supply of the sweetest Sun Gold tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. Oh, they would have been good prepared this way, that is for sure. But another part of me wishes I’d never seen this recipe at all. Why? It’s delicious, even with supermarket cherry tomatoes—that’s the good news. But the bad news is that blanching and peeling cherry tomatoes is a royal pain, and it’s not a step you can skip. The reward for your labor is a jar full of perfectly seasoned, tender orbs of tomato goodness. I used both the basil and the thyme, and both flavors came through in the oil and tomatoes, as did the garlic. Using just one herb would also be good, and using fresh oregano or marjoram might make a nice variation. My tomatoes fit into an 8-by-11-inch baking dish with room to spare and 2 cups olive oil was more than enough to cover them. If you optimize your pan size for the quantity of tomatoes, you could probably get by with 1/2 cup less olive oil. The cooking time and temperature worked perfectly to give me tomatoes that had intensified in flavor and absorbed the seasoning but still held their shape. I had some of the tomatoes over cheese and crackers. Then the next morning I spooned some onto my breakfast grits along with a drizzle of the flavorful oil. Scrumptious! You really get a two-fer with this recipe as the oil is very tasty and can be brushed on bruschetta or used to sauté vegetables. As good as this was with supermarket tomatoes, I’m making plans to revisit it with perfectly ripe Sun Golds.
I would go ahead and file this recipe away in the “simple but sounds impressive” category. What I really enjoyed was that with little effort you could make something that had many uses and lasted a while in the fridge. It’s also a great way to make off-season tomatoes taste delicious. Yes, it does take a little effort to blanch and skin the tomatoes, but not much, and once the tomatoes are in the oven, you don’t really have to do much else. The only questionable part of this recipe was how to decide whether or not they’re done. I stuck to the 30 minute time just because I really had no way of testing their doneness, or how them being vibrant and whole but cooked was something that could be observed. This is a bit unclear. Either way the oil was hot, and once they cooled down, which took a very long time, they were luscious and decadent, and had great tomato flavor. I will say that I added the optional thyme and basil, if you omitted them the flavor would probably be a bit more versatile. There really are a ton of ways to use these: throw them into a sauté, on pizza dough (what I immediately did), on toast, with pasta, the possibilities are endless, and the cooking technique did serve to concentrate the flavor of store-bought bulk cherry tomatoes. This is a creative method of brightening up the sometimes depressing selection in the produce section in the dead of winter and I highly recommend the extra effort.
I felt like a very cool, chef-type person while making this. As it happened, I didn’t have a dish the right size to both have the tomatoes in a single layer AND make sure the oil covered them. I went with the single layer. The result still tasted great but the tomatoes sort of melted at the point where they were sticking out of the oil —as had I feared! Still, they basically kept their shape but not as much as I think they should have. This is also a recipe that requires good equipment —not only a correct-size pan but a sharp knife. Mine was a little dull and my sharpener had somehow disappeared, so I had to apply more pressure and cut a little more into the tomatoes than I wanted when preparing to blanch them, which also had an adverse outcome on the shape. I blanched the tomatoes in 2 batches, used all the herbs and garlic, and loved the end result (looks aside). Over the past few days, I’ve had them on everything—on cod fillets, smashed onto a piece of toast with cottage cheese, in a BLT, straight off a spoon. The recipe is a bit labor intensive, but it’s the fun kind—you don’t need to concentrate too hard and the peeled tomatoes reminded me of the peeled grape eyeballs in the haunted houses of my youth. Pure joy!
I skipped the basil and used the fresh thyme sprigs and had a nice hit at the holiday table with these luscious little tomatoes and the accompanying olive oil bath they came with. Since I wasn’t completely sure what to do with them, I just set them out with the cheese tray and that seemed to work for everyone. They were a cheerful red color and a nice bite-size treat and very soon there were none left. However, no one wanted to part with the oil, which was flavorful and delicious as a dip for crusty bread on subsequent evenings. And, yes, this really perked up some okay tomatoes, which seems the perfect direction for winter tomatoes. Summer tomatoes need no such attention; in winter, we could eat these all the time. I am looking forward to trying the optional basil, which could lend a different direction to the confit, and also create a dish looking more like the photo than mine did, simply because mine had thyme but no basil.
It was very easy to make the cherry tomato confit with the directions in the recipe. And the whole process looked beautiful at every step—especially the end result. I used it with lamb dishes, chicken, and vegetables.
Originally published August 26, 2017