Home-roasted tomatoes beat store-bought sundried

— Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a socio-economic model that allows people to buy food direct from farmers. Customers pay for a yearly ‘share’ of the farm’s crops, and collect a weekly harvest prepared by the farmer. Amanda Gormley, marketing and member/owner service coordinator at the Syracuse Real Food Cooperative, brings you this guide to CSA’s most baffling offerings.

This week: cherry tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes can range from as small as a salad crouton to as large as an egg. They come in colors from yellow to orange to deep pink to bright red. There are as many ways to eat a cherry tomato as there are sizes, shapes and colors of these colorful, petite fruits. (Or is it a vegetable?)

Of course you can eat a cherry tomato raw. There are few things more enjoyable than popping a whole cherry tomato in your mouth and chomping down. They might be miniature tomatoes, but their flavor is huge!

Oven-roasted tomatoes are an easy DIY replacement for store-bought sun-dried tomatoes. Just slice the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise (you’ll want to use a larger variety of cherry tomato, since they shrink considerably) and remove the seeds. Place them skin-side down on a baking sheet and lightly pour a mixture of olive oil, salt, and crushed garlic over them. Bake at 200 degrees for 3 to 6 hours. They’re finished when the tomatoes are dry, but retain their shape. The edges will be slightly caramelized and almost crispy.

Oven roasted cherry tomatoes will keep, chilled, for about two weeks, but you’ll eat them long before then! They’re delicious on crispy bread with soft, spreadable cheeses.

Toss oven roasted cherry tomatoes in pasta and olive oil for a simple summer meal. Sauté them with hearty greens like escarole or collards for a side. Chopped and whipped into butter, oven roasted cherry tomato butter is a rich and elegant spread for lamb or steak, or can be spread onto bread with crushed garlic and toasted for a twist on tradition garlic bread.

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