It’s the end of the official tomato season, and what better way to hang onto it than to literally preserve some. I know, I’ve beat this horse till it’s probably long past dead in your minds, but in the middle of winter, when everything outside is gray and brown and white, you will thank your lucky stars that your good friend, The Kitchen Goddess, persuaded you to put some of these goodies away in jars.
Let me start by saying that this is sooooo easy, and yet the results will make you the envy of all your friends. I’ve checked my local Whole Foods, and it seems that those really sweet cherry tomatoes are still available. So whether or not you have a Whole Foods nearby, you can probably find both red and yellow cherry tomatoes in stock at your local grocer or farmers’ market; if not, go for just red or whatever color you can find. I like the mix of red and yellow just for the color. And while I’ve used rosemary as my herb of choice, that’s mostly because the stuff grows like cactus down here in Texas, so I’m always trimming back my rosemary bushes and just throwing the branches away. You could also go for fresh oregano or some combination of oregano, thyme, rosemary, French tarragon, dill, or basil.
Confit (pronounced “con-fee”) originally developed as a way to preserve meats, salting and seasoning them and cooking them for a long time in their own fat, then cooling and storing them in the fat. Nowadays, many fruits and veggies are made into confit by just cooking the hell out of them. In fact, Giada has an apple and onion confit that looks delicious, though I only just discovered it in the process of writing this post. Have to try that. And lemon confit, which is used as a seasoning, and in which the lemons are preserved for 1-3 months in salt, is a whole different animal, but well worth trying.
This cherry tomato confit is completely wonderful as a topping for bruschetta, and Melissa Clark, from whom I adapted this recipe, says she serves it over fresh ricotta with crusty bread. I most often serve it on pasta, though it would go equally well over polenta or quinoa or creamy risotto. Straight from the jar, it makes a bright, really flavorful topping. All you might want to add is some grated parmesan, but I could see stirring in some sautéed mushrooms or sliced Italian sausage. So make a big batch, preserve some in jars, and leave the rest for dinner this week. In fact, even without that whole processing-in-boiling-water business, if you put the confit in jars, it will last at least a month in the refrigerator.
Red and Yellow Cherry Tomato Confit
Adapted from Melissa Clark in The New York Times
1 pint red cherry tomatoes
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
leaves from 3 6-inch stems of fresh rosemary (a scant ¼ cup)
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (alternatively, a pinch of crushed red pepper)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375º. In a large bowl, with a wooden spoon, gently stir together the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. Spread the mixture out evenly onto a sheet pan, and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper (or pepper flakes), kosher salt, and pepper. Bake 45-50 minutes, until the tomatoes start to look wrinkled. Shake the pan a couple of times during the baking to keep the tomatoes distributed in the oil.
If you’re not eating them immediately, store the tomatoes – along with the oil, garlic, and herbs – in jars. Keeps one month in the refrigerator.