You will find that there are many ways in which to enjoy Roasted Cherry Tomatoes. The simple method of roasting the tomatoes heightens and brightens their flavour.
Just roasting the tomatoes for 30 minutes in the oven makes a wonderful dish with a naturally sweet flavour which is balanced by a gentle tang of acidity.
The roasting produces tomatoes which are juicy and full flavoured. Their sugars slightly caramelise and add to the depth of flavour.
Whilst I enjoy tomatoes prepared in this quick, simple manner, let me first clarify. To me, there are few things better in the culinary world than a perfectly ripe tomato, picked fresh from the vine.
I prepare it simply, just sliced, seasoned with sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It is pure bliss.
However, such pleasures are rare unless we grow our own tomatoes or have an excellent supplier.
Inspiration for the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
Tomatoes are a favourite fruit of mine. There are so many ways in which to enjoy them throughout their growing season.
And although they are available year-round, I rarely buy tomatoes in winter. They’re always disappointing; they lack colour and they lack flavour.
However, there are times when I feel in need of a flavoursome tomato and simply cannot wait until they are in season. I have discovered that the solution is to roast them.
Roasting is a great way to improve less than ideal tomatoes, be it during winter or at any other time of the year. It concentrates their flavour, enhancing their natural sweetness.
Also, cooking tomatoes improves their nutritional value. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Scientific studies have discovered the increased nutritional benefit which is obtained by cooking tomatoes. The studies have shown that the human body can absorb more lycopene from a cooked tomato than a raw tomato.
As well, tomatoes which are cooked with olive oil have an even higher nutritional absorption rate. This is one of the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet where tomatoes are often cooked in olive oil.
Why we love tomatoes that have been roasted:
Cooked with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and fresh basil, the tomatoes burst and release their juices into the baking dish, adding an extra flavour dimension.
I love the myriad of ways in which I can use them. I list some suggestions below, but you are truly only limited by your own imagination.
Roasting the tomatoes is also an ideal way to keep some for the weeks or months ahead. I like to freeze some in zip-lock bags to use as a quick pasta sauce.
I use these ingredients:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Cherry tomatoes are ideal for roasting. They contain a higher amount of naturally occurring sugar than their larger relatives. Roasting the tomatoes intensifies their flavour and caramelises the sugars, adding extra flavour.
If you have some cherry tomatoes that are a little past their prime and have become wrinkled, do not throw them out. This is a great way to avoid wastage; they respond well to roasting, becoming extra sweet and suitable for many uses.
I use fresh garlic cloves and chop them finely. The flavour of fresh garlic is superior to the bottled variety.
I always use extra virgin olive oil. As it is the first pressing of the olives, naturally extracted from the fruit without the use of heat, the flavour is fresher and more intense. Being naturally extracted, it retains its health benefitting antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.
For the best flavour, I encourage you to use the best olive oil that you have. My recommendation is that you avoid “light” olive oil.
“Light” does not mean that it is lighter in calories. It means that it is lighter in flavour and colour; it also means that it contains fewer nutrients.
Basil and tomatoes are two foods that just go together. There are so many recipes which call for the use of these two ingredients that they almost seem inseparable.
In fact, such is their relationship that they love to be planted near each other in the garden. It is said that basil helps repel insects and improves the growth and flavour of tomatoes.
Whilst I generally prefer to use fresh herbs, this is one instance when I prefer to use dried.
Many cooks prefer the dried herb as they find the flavour to be more subtle than the fresh. It complements other flavours rather than dominating them.
Whilst cherry tomatoes are sweeter than their larger relatives, I still find that they benefit from the addition of a small amount of sugar to counteract their natural acidity.
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper:
Sea salt is a great flavour booster and it’s almost impossible to imagine eating tomatoes without adding it. It’s just one of those foods; eggs are another. They need salt.
I prefer to always use freshly ground black pepper as the flavour is much brighter. Pre-ground black pepper tends to taste dull and “dusty.”
This is how I make the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
To begin, I pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Whilst the oven is heating, I wash the tomatoes, thoroughly dry them and then cut them in half.
Then, I add them to a non-reactive pan which is large enough to hold them in a single layer. A non-reactive pan is one which does not react with the food which is being cooked. Foods which may react include citrus, vinegar and tomatoes; that is, acidic foods.
A reactive pan may be made from copper, aluminium or cast iron. Non-reactive pans are made from glass, ceramic, stainless steel or have an enamelled coating.
I toss the tomatoes with olive oil then sprinkle with minced garlic, basil leaves, dried oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Then I roast them for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked and the edges are slightly charred.
They can be used immediately or, I store in the fridge for 3 days.
Can the tomatoes be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze them. You can extend the flavour of summer tomatoes with the simple method of roasting. Buy a batch while they are still a reasonable price.
Roast them and then freeze them; they will bring the bright taste of summer to dull winter days.
Ladle the roasted tomatoes into zip-lock freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Tips for success:
For the best flavour and increased nutritional value, it is best to use olive oil with the tomatoes. Ideally, my choice is extra virgin olive oil.
I almost always prefer to use fresh ingredients in cooking. I strongly recommend that you use fresh garlic cloves as opposed to the jarred variety.
The flavour of fresh garlic is infinitely superior. In addition, the jarred garlic is likely to contain preservatives and the cloves may have been bleached so they retain their whiteness.
It is important to roast the tomatoes in a non-reactive pan. A non-reactive pan is one which is made from stainless steel, ceramic, glass or is enamelled.
A reactive pan is one which may interact with certain acidic foods such as tomatoes. A reactive pan can alter the colour and flavour of the dish.
Some of the ways I like to enjoy roasted tomatoes are:
These Roasted Cherry Tomatoes are extremely versatile. There are numerous ways in which to use the tomatoes and they are delicious served either warm or at room temperature.
- In a salad, such as my Roasted Caprese Salad;
- On crostini/bruschetta – delicious with fresh ricotta and drizzled balsamic glaze;
- As a simple sauce to serve with pasta;
- To top a pizza along with our Preserved Chillies in Oil;
- As a side dish for meat, poultry or fish;
- A base for fried eggs;
- Alongside our Gnocchi Alla Romana;
- Part of an antipasto platter;
- In a risotto;
- On a platter with a ball of creamy burrata.
We also enjoy tomatoes prepared this way:
- Marinated Tomato Salad
- Crispy Baked Parmesan Tomatoes
- Caprese Bread Tartlets
- Spinach and Feta Galettes
- Char-grilled Asparagus with Feta and Mint
The best way to boost out of season tomatoes, or those that lack flavour, is to roast them. The roasted tomatoes can be used in so many ways.
Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe deceive you. You will find many ways in which to enjoy tomatoes prepared in this manner.
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- 500 gm cherry tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil See Note 1
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste See Note 2
- Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C (350 F).
- Wash the tomatoes and thoroughly dry them. Cut them in half.
- Toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil in a non-reactive pan. – see Note 3.
- Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle with the minced garlic, half the basil leaves, dried oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes are collapsing and slightly charred.
- If not serving immediately, cool the tomatoes, place into an airtight container and refrigerate. Add the remaining basil leaves when ready to serve. – see Note 4.