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Roasted tomatoes can be used in a very wide variety of recipes. Bruschetta, homemade marinara sauce, antipasto salads or platters, sandwiches, pizzas, and casseroles can all benefit from the savory, rich flavor of roasted tomatoes. When making your own, there are a few basic steps you should follow. Preheating the oven to the proper temperature generally comes first, followed by slicing and seeding the vegetables. Coating the tomatoes in oil and flavorings, and roasting them for the proper amount of time helps them become pleasantly soft and charred.
When preheating your oven, set it between 375° and 400°F (about 190° and 204°C). This may seem high, but if you try to roast tomatoes at lower temperature, they may just turn to mush before they develop the proper char around the edges. A high temperature and a relatively short cooking time should properly roast tomatoes to soften them and give them a mellow bite, without causing them to fall apart.
Though you can use any kind of tomato for making your own, egg-shaped Roma tomatoes often work best. These firm, meaty little fruits often stand up to heating better than their larger heirloom or beefsteak cousins. All you have to with these smaller tomatoes is wash them, slice off the stem end and cut them in half, vertically. You may gently squeeze each half over a bowl to remove the seeds, or scoop them out with a spoon. Some people also like to slice away the core, but you don’t have to.
To roast tomatoes, place the halved fruits, cut side up, on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Olive oil is usually the common fat chosen to roast tomatoes, but you can use canola, safflower, or your favorite other cooking oil. Drizzle the cut sides of the tomatoes with a little more oil and season with salt. If you want really flavorful tomatoes, try adding garlic powder, snipped chives, or dried basil or parsley to them as well. Some recipes also recommend a sprinkling of sugar, some lemon zest, or Parmesan cheese.
Once seasoned, place the tomatoes in the oven to roast for 40 to 60 minutes. Don’t open the oven door to check on them, use the window in the door and the oven light instead. Opening the oven door too often allows heat to escape, which may lead to undercooked tomatoes. While undercooked tomatoes aren’t dangerous, they’re not necessarily tasty, either.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven when they’re done roasting and either transfer them to a warmed serving dish or add them to your favorite tomato-based recipe. You may also wait until they cool and freeze them. Once thawed, frozen roasted tomatoes can give even wintertime recipes a fresh burst of flavor.
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