Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

These slow roasted tomatoes call for ripe plum (roma) tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar or chile powder, along with a little patience, to make intensely flavored magnificence.

Halved slow roasted tomatoes on a piece of parchment with drops of oil and flakes of salt.

Slow roasted tomatoes boast a more intense flavor than their can be added to all kinds of dishes, including salads, vegetables, fish, red meat, and cheeses. You might like to try these in the Salt-Baked Wild Salmon with Tomato Aïoli and Potatoes recipe.–Skye Gyngell

Roasted Tomato

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 4 H
  • Makes 6 to 8 or 1 medium jar
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Ingredients

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  • 6 to 8 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/4 lbs) (or substitue roma)
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar (see Note) or 1 to 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • 2. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and lay them, cut side up, in a single layer on the paper.
  • 3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar or chile powder, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle it over tomatoes. Roast in the oven, undisturbed, until they shrivel but aren’t dried out, 3 to 4 hours.
  • 4. Let the slow-roasted tomatoes cool on the baking sheet.
  • 5. Refrigerate and use within a few days or pack in jars, add enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover, screw on the lid, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Originally published April 21, 2010.

Recipe Testers Reviews

We’ve been blessed with a bumper crop of tomatoes again this summer, so I’m happy to use them in as many different ways as I can. I’ve oven-roasted tomatoes often, but had not yet used this particular recipe. They burst with intense tomato flavor and became even sweeter. Roasting vegetables and fruits is one of my favorite ways to use them. I loved the texture—they were sort of soft and pliable, yet held together very well.

I am going to use them in my favorite marinated feta recipe. Sometimes I blend them and make a simple soup. Usually, when I roast tomatoes, I add a sprig of thyme and/or rosemary to each half. I prefer that, but this is still a very simple, delicious recipe that really accentuates the tomato flavor.

Well, it doesn't get much simpler than this. The tomatoes had a nice, concentrated, sweet flavor.

I used superfine sugar, sea salt, and pepper. I baked them for 4 1/2 hours, at which point they looked shriveled but not completely dried out.

They would be tasty tossed with olive oil, garlic, basil, and pasta, in a dip, with some ricotta on crostini, in a quiche or frittata, etc.

The only down side to the recipe is that when tomatoes are abundant and inexpensive, the weather is so hot that the thought of having the oven on for so long is not appealing. That said, it would be worthwhile to make a large batch and keep in olive oil in the refrigerator.

I made this recipe 4 different ways: I tried it with the sugar, with ancho chile powder, and with red pepper gochugaru. I also tried slicing the tomatoes, still lengthwise, instead of halving them.

My tomatoes were large for plum tomatoes. Because of that, slicing them in half seemed to cause problems in the roasting. By the time the bottom of the tomatoes were shriveling, the tops were burning. I did have more success with the tomatoes I sliced.

I preferred the tomatoes with the chili powder, but some people like really sweet tomatoes and may prefer the ones with the sugar. Slicing the tomatoes more thinly allowed me to use the slices on sandwiches, which was the best use of them I discovered. I also tried dicing them in an omelet and just eating them as is.

As for servings, it depends on what you use them for. I think this recipe may be best used when there is a glut of plum tomatoes that you are afraid won't keep, and the day is not so warm that roasting tomatoes for 4 hours is not inconceivable.

Slow-roasted tomatoes are so wonderful, versatile, and great to have on-hand. The roasting concentrates and creates rich, deep, flavor. The results were delicious. This recipe is good for tomatoes that are not in full season, but even tomatoes in season would be delicious, and then you have the option to roast for less time and leave them slightly plump.

Because there are so many great ways to use them, I would recommend making a large batch. They keep well with olive oil, and can be used for bruschetta, in sandwiches, alongside pasta, crushed in pesto, and just served plain with a few basil leaves and flaky salt. These are definitely worth the time.

I served them alongside pasta with Sicilian pesto, and I also put one in the pesto mixture itself. In the past, I have used them in sandwiches, I love them on bruschetta with ricotta or mozzarella, with soft cheese, and have even put some in fresh tomato sauce to add complexity. This is the kind of dish that has so many uses.

I chose this recipe because slow-roasted tomatoes have wonderful flavor, they are super versatile, and they extend the tomato season for us in the Northeast, concentrating flavor in mediocre tomatoes. This recipe is a variation on what I usually do, so I was very curious about the results.

After reading the recipe, I realized I have preconceived notions on slow-roasted tomatoes! I was troubled by the choice to add sugar or chili powder. I’m more of a purist than I thought, because adding sugar seems wrong to me, but adding chili powder changes how I might use the finished tomatoes. It would have felt more natural to me to add basil or oregano for the last half hour, or even add a splash of balsamic vinegar instead of sugar for sweetness. For this recipe, I chose to add sugar, based on the fact that in the Boston area, it’s hard to find really great tomatoes right now, and the way I will use them is more Italian-style.

A few weeks into the season, and I might overlook this recipe because of these additions. I’m thinking tomatoes with chili powder would be great with tacos, in guacamole, or on a burger so I’ll try that next time, but it took some time for me to warm up to the thought of adding chili powder. Next time, I’ll likely put 2 trays in the oven, one of each.

I usually add olive oil to the tomatoes before roasting, so it will be interesting to note how the dry mixture changes the product.

I couldn’t really detect any sweetness from the sugar, although I’m sure it caramelized and added flavor. Still, when I make these again, I might skip the sugar and add a drop of balsamic if the tomatoes are not perfectly ripe. I roasted them for the full 4 hours, and because no olive oil was used when roasting, the result was much drier that my usual. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the texture and flavor!

This recipe could be easily adapted to work with small tomatoes, and I think it would be worthwhile to note this on the recipe. I would also list some ways to use slow roasted tomatoes in the recipe—once you make them you find a million ways to use them, but including this info might entice someone that’s never made them to try them.

I’m very glad I made this recipe. Although I have made many slow-roasted tomatoes, the slight variations in this recipe produced a product that was different enough to be interesting! And also proves you can’t go wrong with slow-roasted tomatoes.

A great use for the surplus of tomatoes from your garden this summer! The recipe only takes a few minutes to pull together and then you can ignore them while they slowly roast in the oven.

I put mine in a jar with olive oil, but, if you made a large batch of these, I'd put some in the freezer for winter. This morning I chopped up a few halves to saute with my scrambled eggs and they tasted lovely! I might throw some into premade pasta sauce to jazz it up or put them in a cold pesto pasta salad for this weekend. As an added bonus, I'm looking forward to using the olive oil after it has sat with the tomatoes; it should be sweet, salty, with a hint of tomato flavor—perfect for a vinaigrette!

I thought these slow-roasted tomatoes were really great with a lot of potential! Even though they'd be best during the summer months during peak tomato season, I think the roasting would be a terrific way to utilize out-of-season tomatoes and really concentrate the flavor.

Once I mixed up the seasonings (I went with the sugar, salt, pepper combo), I was wary that the amount would be too overwhelming for a small batch of tomatoes (I used six plum tomatoes, all of which were on the large size), so I ended up using only about half the mixture.

I couldn't resist trying a couple right out of the oven and was happy to cut back on the spices (and I am prone to using a lot of pepper in everything). However, I did try another after transferring them to the fridge and noticed the flavor had mellowed considerably. I think a range would perhaps be helpful for readers.

I roasted mine for 3 1/2 hours; some of the halves were done closer to 3 hours, and some could have probably gone to 4 hours.

While this recipe may take some time, the end result is pure tomato goodness. Slow roasting, and therefore slightly dehydrating the tomatoes, concentrates the sweetness and intensifies the tomato flavor in a way that delights your taste buds.

I tried both the sugar option and the chili powder option and both had similar results. I used ancho chile powder and the resulting tomato had all the sweetness and a slightly smoky note. The sugar option plays on (and intensifies) the natural sweetness of the tomato without being overwhelming. I cooked my tomatoes at 200°F for 5 1/2 hours.

I could easily see these tomatoes being put on a pizza or flatbread, or thrown in at the end of a pasta dish for concentrated tomato bites. I could even see these blended up for a "no-cook" style sauce. These might also be a great addition to a bruschetta-type appetizer. Or if all else fails, do as my husband and I did and just eat them right off the baking sheet.

The tomatoes were shriveled a good bit at that point but still juicy. As I didn't see a picture of the end result, I wasn't entirely sure if this was the desired outcome but they tasted great to us.

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