BLT sandwiches have been a common occurrence around here lately. As have tomato salads and crostini — I can't seem to get enough. Local tomatoes are still a touch early in Seattle, but if you get to the farmers markets first thing, you can nab some. So I've been doing just that —stockpiling and hoarding and making big plans for tomatoes this season. First up, besides the common and obvious choice of eating them raw on just about everything: poaching them.
I came to oil-poaching tomatoes really late in the game. Truthfully, just last week. I've long been a fan of oven-roasting tomatoes to draw out their natural sweetness, but poaching them simply never occurred to me. The most magical thing happens when you just barely cover tomatoes in a layer of olive oil with a little garlic and a smattering of herbs and let them bathe in it for a good long: they become velvety soft and fragrant and the utmost essence of summer. Seriously, have you tried them?
You can make oil-poached tomatoes with any tomatoes you've got around. Cherry tomatoes are wonderful; sliced beefsteak tomatoes will work great, too. Some recipes call for a slow poach of 4 to 5 hours with the oven set at 175°F while others crank the oven to 300°F and instruct that the tomatoes poach for 35 minutes.
I prefer somewhere right in between as I don't like to have my oven cranking for hours in the summer: I generally set the oven to 250°F, season the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper and lay them out in a small baking dish. Then I cover them with olive oil and bake for about an hour or until completely softened.
The tomatoes you'll pull from the oven are heaven spooned on top of chicken, fish or pasta. And the leftover oil is wonderful whisked into vinaigrettes or spooned on top of warm grains. My favorite way to eat them? Straight out of the baking pan. One after another.
(Images: Cherry on My Sundae)