Harvest Recipe: Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Pomegranate Molasses and Basil

We're still getting fresh local tomatoes in in the Bay Area and will continue to do so into October. Such glorious abundance! So far this season, I have canned whole San Marzano's, tomato jam and am about to make and can up some ketchup. Still, I have a large bowl of dry-farmed Early Girls sitting on my counter, perfect for slow roasting.
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This recipe works pretty well with out-of-season supermarket tomatoes, too. The idea is that the slow oven dries out the tomatoes slightly, concentrating their sugars and flavors but this is not a leathery, 'sun-dried' tomato. Moistened with olive oil and pomegranate molasses, the tomato remains juicy and chewy and bursting with sweet, tomato flavor.

Pomegranate molasses is made by boiling down pomegranate juice with sugar to form a thick syrup. It's sweet and tangy at the same time and adds a balanced tartness to the tomatoes. You can find it in most Middle Eastern shops and at larger supermarkets for only a few dollars per bottle.

Method for Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Pomegranate Molasses and Basil.

Choose smaller varieties such as plum tomatoes, or dry-farmed Early Girls. Even cherry tomatoes will do here, although you may not have to cook them as long.

Preheat oven to 300°. Wash and dry tomatoes. Oil a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Cut tomatoes in half and place, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Cut a garlic clove into very thin slivers. Repeat until you have as many garlic slivers as tomato halves. Tuck garlic slivers deep into each tomato half. Holding your thumb over the top, drizzle each tomato with the pomegranate molasses, using several drops per half. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Place in oven and roast for at least 2 hours. Check tomatoes: They should be dry and curling at the edges but still moist in the middle. Remove from oven.

To serve: place tomato halves on a small cracker or slice of bread or toast. Garnish with a little more olive oil, fresh ground black pepper and a basil leaf. Optional addition: a dab of goat cheese.

Or use in your last-of-the-season BLT. Or toss with pasta and fresh basil. Or as an omelet filling. You get the idea.

(Image: Dana Velden)

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