My dad grows a lot of tomatoes in his garden – both in quantity and variety. He and mom love a wide variety of heirlooms, but also grow some conventional tomatoes since the heirlooms don’t produce nearly as much fruit. They eat a LOT of tomatoes in the summer, in salads, scalloped, and just straight off the vine. Luckily for me, they still have enough to share, and a few weeks ago, they brought me these beauties:
I was super excited, because as we all know, a tomato fresh from the garden is to a supermarket tomato as bacon is to a piece of cardboard. They are full of flavor – the very essence of summer. But! I was also worried, because it was a LOT of tomatoes, and they go bad so quickly, and Mr. Menace does not care for tomatoes in their un-sauced, un-ketchuped state. WHAT TO DO?
Then I remembered, vaguely, that Barbara Lynch’s Stir had a recipe that might do the trick – help me to extend the life of the tomatoes without completely removing the fresh sweetness of them.
People – you can confit tomatoes.
Okay, maybe this isn’t as exciting to you as it is to me, or maybe you don’t know what confit means. It’s often done to meat, specifically waterfowl in the French tradition, and usually the legs. You take your duck legs, you salt and season them, and you poach them in duck fat. This preserves them, and also makes them incredibly tender and delicious. Any non-waterfowl prepared this way (say, chicken legs in goose fat) would be properly called “en confit.”
You can also confit fruit, with sugar. Essentially it comes down to preserving your food WITH the essence of the food, right? So how do you confit a tomato?
With olive oil!
You core and de-seed all of your tomatoes:
Then cover them with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and some thyme (which was from my own garden!), and let them slowly cook in the oven:
The result is soft, incredibly flavorful tomatoes and some pretty tasty olive oil, as well! The best part is that they’ll keep for 5 days, far longer than the tomatoes will on the counter.
What can you then do with these products? I used the oil to cook up greens, flavor some quinoa, and over pasta. The tomatoes can be put in salads or a supremely tasty grilled cheese sandwich, but the confit recipe is actually part of a larger recipe in the book – tomato tarte tatin. I made those beauties too – so check out next week’s post to see how they came out!