How I Turn Bland, Out-of-Season Tomatoes into Something Worth Eating

(Image credit: Marisa McClellan)

I dream of the time in summer when I can find tomatoes so sweet and ripe that I can bite into them like an apple; the kind bursting with flavor and a fragrance that hits your nose before you reach the bin.

It’s tough to wait, so I have a little trick for getting more delicious flavor out of the bland, out-of-season tomatoes that populate the grocery store the rest of the year.

In season or not, I’m a sucker for tomatoes — even when it means taking home the dull, flavorless variety. With these guys, it’s not really the ripeness that matters (because out of season is out of season); the key is knowing how to make them work for you.

When eaten raw, out-of-season tomatoes don’t really bring a lot to the table, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from them — especially when they’re on sale. That’s exactly when you should stock up on extra.

How to Make Out-of-Season Tomatoes Delicious

What’s the trick to make out-of-season tomatoes worth eating? It’s simple: Slow-roast them.

Give these tomatoes some time to slow-roast at a low temperature in the oven and you’ll taste an unbelievable and delicious transformation. The oven pulls out the tomato’s natural sugars, concentrating them over time, ultimately rewarding you with a sweeter and much more flavorful version. It’s night and day from the specimen you brought home from the store.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Here’s How to Slow-Roast Tomatoes

This works best when you prep the tomatoes before sliding them into the oven. You can halve or quarter them, cut them into wedges, or slice. It all depends on the type of tomatoes you have and what you intend to do with them, or just your general preference.

  • Spread the tomatoes (cut-side up) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if you like, although it’s not totally necessary.
  • Put the baking sheet in a 250°F oven and cook for 30 minutes to two hours. I know it’s a pretty wide range; the cook time depends on the type of tomato and the way it’s cut, with smaller tomatoes taking less time than larger cuts. If you’re uncertain about the timing, start with 30 minutes and add more cook time as needed.

When the tomatoes are roasted and browned, use them in pasta or tossed with other roasted vegetables for that full tomato experience — at least until summer comes.

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