Roasted Tomato Soul
I made it and loved it. I put up a half bushel of tomatoes this way. I got several of my friends to try them. They are now making them every year. Anyone who tastes them makes them. We all joke about whether or not a half bushel is too little.
I love to put them in at night when I go to sleep and have them roast while I am dreaming. I found out that another of my friends likes to do it that way as she enjoys waking to the scent that is so deep it is almost a flavor.
Our homes are full of the deep, tomato-rich scent of roasting. It invades our sleep, glides us into tomato-rich dreams of fields that spread on in limitless horizons. These fields make us hope. They send a feeling that he Earth itself is reaching up to offer us a treasure, an offering in the leafy palm of Mother Nature of sweet, juicy globes. The Summer Tomato. Nothing compares. It reduces the cellophane wrapped store tomatoes to cringing in the corners. For they are not tomatoes at all in comparison to the wonders of The Summer Tomato.
Here in New England, we love the Tomato Sandwich. Bread, tomatoes, salt, pepper, mayo. Or butter instead of mayo. It is a treat that is not at all appetizing with store-bought-hot-house tomatoes. They have to be local. And fresh.
Or, we love the simple Tomato with Salt.
But the pinnacle of all tomatoes, the zenith, is the Slow Roasted Plum Tomato. It takes 10 hours or so to cook. So it teases us, tempts us, with its scent of summer and summery herbs. We can almost feel the olive oil on our tongues supporting the deep tomato goodness. But we have to wait. We peek in every now and again and sneak a tomato half out, but we know that is just a preview of the greater glory to come.
When they are done, they get frozen, and re-appear during the cold months as a reminder of sunwarmth past. They appear in salads, tossed in pasta with oil and maybe anchovies or spinach, in sauce, on a cracker with goat cheese, cold with salami, in brown rice with assorted veggies, in white rice with scallions, on home made pizza. There are very few places where they cannot make a stellar appearance.
They are meted out slowly through the winter months, so that they end when new tomatoes arrive. This is not easy. But it is worth it to know that hidden in the depth of winter's freezer -- in small plastic bags -- is the taste of summer, waiting to open in our mouths.