Tag Archives | roasted tomatoes

Preserves in Action: Roasted Tomato and Feta Dip

roasted tomato dip

I am not a sports fan, but I am the daughter of a man who cares deeply about nearly every flavor of mainstream college and professional sports (hockey is the only thing that leaves him cold). Thanks to my dad, I have spent far more hours in stadiums and in front of large television sets watching men run after balls and around bases than I ever would have if left to my own devices.

Despite my disinterest, it never took much to convince me to participate in the watching, because I learned from an early age that snacks were an integral part of being a spectator. And I most definitely wanted in on those snacks.

roasted tomato dip top

This Sunday is the biggest game of them all, and for weeks now, blogs and food websites have been offering up recipes to serve at your party. I typically stay clear of the Game Day Spread topic, but I whirled up a really delicious impromptu dip a few days ago and so it seemed silly not to get it up here in advance of the insanity.

You start with two cups of roasted grape tomatoes (all the better if you added some garlic while roasting). If you have some of these squirreled away in your freezer, you’re halfway there. If not, turn a pint of grocery store grape tomatoes out onto a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, add some garlic, and roast hot and fast or low and slow, until the tomatoes have wilted and browned.

tomato dip on a chip

Let the tomatoes cool and then dump them into the bowl of a food processor. Add 8 ounces of cream cheese, 4 ounces of crumbled feta (tangier is better), and 1/2 cup marinated roasted red pepper strips (if your grocery store has a antipasto bar, buy just what you need there instead of opening a jar that you will then have to refrigerate). Process to combine.

Add salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt at first, because feta often has plenty). If it needs a little more acidity, go with a squirt of lemon juice. Refrigerate to firm it up a little and then serve with cut-up veggies or chips of some kind. I’ve been eating it for lunch with celery sticks, or using it as a sandwich spread. Delicious and easy, just the way we like it.

(I realize that I wrote a very similar post to this one three years ago, complete with a recipe for a different tomato dip. Life is cyclical and I’m okay with that.)

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Five Ways To Preserve Small Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes from Little Acre Homestead

Last week, I monumentally lucked out. Heather and Steven from Little Acre Farmstead swapped me ten pounds of little tomatoes for an assortment of jam. I think it may well have been the best trade of my life. Admittedly, my bartering career is in its infancy. But still, I was tickled. Thing is, ten pounds of tiny tomatoes is a whole lot. So I had to get creative with my preservation techniques. Here’s what I did.

frozen tomatoes

I froze enough to fill two small cookie sheets. This is the easiest method I know. There’s no prep, you just fill the sheet, pop them into the freezer and leave until solid. Once they turn into tomato marbles, funnel them into jars or zip-top bags and return them to the freezer.

frozen tomatoes

They can be used in soups, stews, roasts and veggie scrambles. Someone also mentioned recently that preserving tomatoes like this makes them great for tomato cobbler (who was that? Remind me and I’ll link to you. It was Melissa from Bridgman Pottery! So pretty).

dehydrated tomatoes

Next up is dehydrated tomatoes. You do need some additional equipment here, but I plunked down the cash for a dehydrator couple of years ago and have yet to regret it (though it is something of a space hog).

In addition to tomatoes, I use mine for peaches, lemons, limes and the occasional batch of jerky. This is the one I have. I slice them in half, place them cut-side up and dehydrate at 135 degrees for 18-24 hours.

dehydrated tomatoes

I make these almost entirely so that I can make this zucchini noodle salad that Tea turned me on to a couple of years ago. They are also good for general snacking (like tomato candy!) and adding to things that have a bit of moisture (they do need to rehydrate a little once in food). You could also puree them into a tomato powder, should you ever need such a thing.

roasted grape tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes. We’ve already talked about this one recently. Still, they’re worth the reminder. Add a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves and some fresh thyme. Or a few slivers of onions and some rosemary. Oregano is also good. However you make them, you won’t be sad that you did.

tomato jam

Here’s another option that I’ve mentioned in the past. Tomato jam. I loved how these little grape tomatoes worked in this recipe. The seeds are a bit smaller, which makes for a really nice texture. And they’re already so sweet that if I use them again in this application, I might just reduce the sugar a bit to compensate. Also, it’s worth noting that this time around, my yield was just three pints as opposed to the four and a half I got last year.

blanching tomatoes

After I froze, dehydrated, roasted and jammed, I had about a pint of tomatoes left. Those became a small batch of refrigerator pickles. I actually took the time to slit, blanch (about 90 second dip in boiling water should do it) and peel all those teeny tomatoes so that they’d better absorb the brine. Luckily, when you’re working with just a single pint, it’s not too tedious.

pickled tomatoes

The brine was 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup filtered water, 2 teaspoons pickling salt, and 2 teaspoons sugar. I added tiny pinches (no more than an 1/8 of a teaspoon each) of mustard seeds, coriander seeds and red chili flakes to the jar, along with two juniper berries. Pour the brine over the tomatoes. Tap to remove bubbles and add a bit more brine. Keep in the fridge for at least 48 hours before eating.

Unfortunately, these are too fragile for boiling water bath storage. They will dissolve into nothing in the heat of the canning pot.

Now, how do you like to preserve tiny tomatoes?

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Slow Roasted Grape Tomatoes + Giveaway

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Though there are at least six or seven more weeks of truly hot weather* left in this season, I can already feel Fall starting to make inroads. Mornings have been cooler (though we are expecting another wave of heat starting tomorrow) and the air smells slightly of crunchy leaves and transitions when I leave work. Summer is waning and it’s high time that I think beyond my beloved jams and frivolous pickles and start stashing away staples.

The tomatoes you see above are part of my winter security blanket. They started life as two pints of grape tomatoes. Cut in half, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, they roasted at 300 degrees F for 2 hours (note: your time may vary depending on how how your oven runs, how tightly you pack your tomatoes onto the baking tray, much moisture the tomatoes contain. Start checking at 30 minutes and check every 15 minutes or so thereafter to prevent burning). Packed into 1-cup portions and frozen, these will become key players in pasta sauces, soups and braises on those cold, short days.

These are similar to the long roasted romas that I wrote about last summer. The nice thing about grape tomatoes is that their smaller size means they cook up more quickly. You can pick up a couple extra pints on a Saturday and have them halved and roasting before you get the rest of the groceries put away. A load of laundry later and they’re done.

They go down easy (particular if you have some crusty bread around), so do your best to save a few for the freezer (yes, the freezer. They can’t be canned). Oh, and if you just want to cook up a few to eat with dinner, I recommend trying them over turkey burgers in place of ketchup. It’s really good.

While you wait for your tomatoes to roast, make sure to click over to the Eat Boutique Summer Picnics Gift Box giveaway. If you like what you see and want to buy one for a friend, the nice Eat Boutiques folks are offering a free shipping code to all Food in Jars readers. Just enter “FIJ” at check-out.

*This is at least the case for the mid-Atlantic region in which I live. Pacific Northwesterners, I can’t even predict what your weather is going to be like.

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Slow Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes

cookie sheets of tomatoes

I’m elbow-deep in roma tomatoes at the moment, but wanted to drop by with a few words on one of the ways I’m preserving these scrumptious gems. Long, slow roasting in a 200 degree oven. This treatment shrinks their mass, concentrates their flavor and transforms them into something savory and succulent.

tomatoes in the oven

It is so easy to do, I feel a little silly offering instructions. Wash, dry and slice the tomatoes in half. Lay them out cut-side up on parchment-lined rimmed cookie sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Put in the oven and roast at 200 degrees (truly, no hotter than that) for 10-12 hours. I realize that sounds like an inconveniently long time, but I tend to do this overnight, timing it so that they’re finished when I get up in the morning. Works perfectly.

finished tomatoes

I don’t can these tomatoes (honestly, I don’t think you can). I simply cool them, freeze them on the cookie sheets where they were roasted, pack them into jars or freezer bags and store them in the freezer. Easy for year-round additions to pastas, sauces, salads and more.

jar of tomatoes

Just one word of warning. They are so delicious that they may not make it into the freezer for storage. I took a cookie sheet’s worth to a potluck tonight and served them on top of baguette slices that had been smeared with goat cheese. One person told me that he doesn’t really even like tomatoes, but couldn’t stop eating these.

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