I have a confession to make: I like loitering.
You won’t find me hanging around lonely car parks or skulking around street corners. My idle mooching doesn’t take place in the dark shadows of subways or derelict buildings.
My location of choice?
The local market near closing time.
Some of my best food bargains have been at 3.30pm on market day. Fruit and veg that are still beautifully fresh but perhaps not saleable the next day are easily picked up for pennies. You can often get incredible bargains: punnets of strawberries (three for a pound last week ), soft fruit by the tray and salad items galore. As long as you eat it quickly or have the time to prep and freeze it, you’re guaranteed a deal.
I bought a massive punnet of the ripest, most flavoursome cherry tomatoes the other day from the market at loitering time. About 500g for 50p; I couldn’t resist. They were beautiful, little pops of summery sweetness in your mouth. Now, despite the fact that my toddler guzzles tomatoes of the cherry variety like sweets, I could tell by their squishiness that they wouldn’t last long. And if there’s one thing worse than flavourless, pallid, fridge -cold tomatoes, it’s tomatoes that have gone past that point of no return, vinegary and formless. So this recipe was born.
Actually, I hesitate before calling this a recipe. It’s so simple to concoct, it barely warrants the label. Its beauty is twofold; it’s super easy to make, and its versatility is endless. You can fold these little beauties through pasta, eat alongside cold meats for lunch, or add to couscous or salads to liven them up.
I have to give credit to Nigella Lawson, whose Moonblush tomatoes inspired this creation. I vary the herbs a tad, throw in some balsamic vinegar and include the addition of garlic (tomatoes and garlic, never a mistake). Most significantly, I leave the oven on for three hours rather than turning it off immediately. There’s a real intensity of flavour and caramelisation that comes with the concentration of the tomatoes enabled by slow roasting, helped along by a teaspoon of sugar.
These will keep for a few days if refrigerated, and for a couple of weeks if you submerge them in olive oil. If they last that long.
Though to be honest, by then, it’ll be time to go loitering again.
Slow Roasted Sweet Tomatoes
500g cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons garlic oil (or 1 clove garlic, finely crushed mixed with olive oil)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Halve the tomatoes and place, cut side up, in an ovenproof dish.
Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over the tomatoes, ensuring they all get an equal coverage.
Transfer to the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 100 degrees C. Roast for 2 1/2 -3 hours, watching for any blackening.
Leave to cool completely in the oven (about 3-4 hours) before using in a dish of your choice.