Very loose instructions: Do this when you've got a couple of hours on your hands. It's slow and lovely, because you have to open the oven every twenty minutes or so, which is like lighting tomato incense in your house.
Preheat oven to 200°. Line a baking tray with foil; spray a light coating of olive oil on the tray.
Cut into quarters (or halves or sixths) lots of small tomatoes. Toss them in a large bowl with a drizzle of the best olive oil you have, light Kosher flake salt, ground pepper, and the scantest bit of sugar (say, 1/4 teaspoon or less for two pounds of tomatoes). I do at least two pounds—usually three, four, or five on two trays. Otherwise, what's the point?
Scatter the tomatoes on the tray, spacing them as evenly as possible. (Crowded tomatoes take longer to cook. This is not necessarily a bad thing.)
I used small Early Girls (nothing over 2" in diameter, cut in sixths) and some other tomatoes that were not what was labelled; I think they are a Roma-style tomato of one of our favorite heirlooms, the Black Krim. These tomatoes were either small enough to halve, or large enough to quarter. That is the brownish-colored tomato, pictured at top.
You probably don't need to check them for 45 minutes, but if you're greedy for that tomato smell, open the oven at 30 minutes.
They're nearly there—they just want a little darkening.So I raised the temperature to 250°, and twenty minutes later, the tomatoes attained perfection.
They're still moist, they're darker, and they're just perfect. (See the third picture.) If, during the course of roasting these tomatoes, your smaller ones start to get dry, crisp, or stiff, remove them selectively. I dare you to save them until the whole batch is done.
Besides just standing there and popping them into your mouth—and trying to look casual, and trying not to look like you're racing the other person eating them—my favorite use for these tomatoes is in scrambled eggs with smoked trout. Better yet, in an omelette with smoked trout and goat cheese.
I've made these tomatoes so many times. The best ones are the tomatoes we pull off the plants in the winter. Yes, you read correctly: I said "in the winter." At least three times during our ten years in this house, our tomatoes have over-wintered until April. It has something to do with our microclimate, as well as the fact that the tomatoes are on the southern side of the house, under an eave. They get radiant heat from the house, and they are protected from the rare frosts that hit the coast of California. Winter tomatoes become incredibly sweet then, like ice-wine grapes, I suppose. And they make the best roasting tomatoes imaginable.
NEWS: I visited a beautiful little farm this morning with Logan. Everett Family Farm is just a few miles from my house, up Old San Jose Road in Soquel. I'm downloading and organizing photos right now, and will tempt you to return soon and see the pictures. I've added Kirstin Roehler to the Farmers photo album. She gave us a wonderful hour-plus tour of everything, and sent us home with eggs (still warm from the hens), lemon cucumber, pattypan squash, and beautiful white garlic. Thank you, Kirsten, for everything.
Thought for the day: "What is paradise but a garden full of vegetables and herbs and pleasure? Nothing there but delights." —William Lawson.