Winter supermarket tomatoes can be less than inspiring and tend to leave us longing for those late-summer beauties. Here are four ways to transform lackluster tomatoes from mediocre to marvelous.
During the cold winter months, we all dream of those peak summer tomatoes that are so dangerously ripe and juicy that all you need is a napkin to catch their juices from running down your chin. You know the ones. Those colorful and meaty, slightly-tart-yet-sweet summer fruits straight from the farmer’s market. The ones you proudly display on the kitchen windowsill. The perfect partners for leaves of sweet, fresh basil, flaky sea salt, and a drizzle of syrupy balsamic.
But alas, all that seems to be available in the supermarket this time of year are those sad, pithy, slightly hard impostor fruits. Every variety, from the small grape tomatoes to the sliceable red beefsteaks, is tempting to buy for that next BLAT or colorful lunchtime salad, but do you dare? Is there a way to make the most of those winter tomatoes that seem a little lackluster? Well, we took that dare and came up with a few ideas for how to transform those sad supermarket tomatoes from mediocre to marvelous. You can thank us later.
Similar to oven-dried tomatoes, tomato crisps are baked longer, until completely crisp. They make a stunning addition to a charcuterie board or can be swapped in as a gluten-free crouton option for your favorite salad or tomato soup.
The easiest way to rescue bland tomatoes and concentrate their flavor is to slow roast them. Simply halve the tomatoes, toss with some salt and freshly ground pepper, scatter on a baking sheet and cook at 250°F (120°C) until tender and jammy, but not dried out. This usually takes 3 to 4 hours. These slow-roasted tomatoes can be blended into pasta or pizza sauce, puréed into soup, piled atop a block of feta and baked, or used as a topping for baked chicken or fish.
Don’t have the 3 or 4 hours needed to slow-roast your tomatoes? Oven dry slices of supermarket tomatoes, tossed with oil, salt, and a little sugar at 325°F (163°C) for an hour or so until tender and sticky. Swap these little darlings in anywhere you’d use sun-dried tomatoes, like this easy tapenade.
To really take that tomato flavor to the next level, toss those tomato crisps from above into a spice grinder or food processor. The tomato powder can be mixed with water to create tomato paste, stirred into your favorite tomato or pasta sauce, used as a dry rub on meats, sprinkled into taco filling, or used to coat the rim of your Bloody Mary glass.