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I often mention my mother as a guiding light in my kitchen, and undoubtedly my world. She gave me the fundamental tools for preparing food, and with them, the confidence to cook with a sense of total freedom, playfulness and passion. However, my twin sister Dimity – who is always flattering me with her investigative phone calls on the latest peculiarity in her CSA box – provides me with profound inspiration in the simplest of ways, like these slow-roasted balsamic tomatoes she made during our family vacation on Seneca Lake.
I’m too impatient to cook a tomato in season – so much so that few snuggled into any jars for winter. Cherry tomatoes disappear in our kitchen like chocolate, and it takes all the energy I can muster to keep from slicing an heirloom beauty in half like an apple, dusting it with coarse sea salt and devouring it raw.
In early fall tomatoes blush less maddeningly, still bearing their birthed green and more taught skin. This is when it makes perfect sense to cook a tomato, helping it discover peak flavor one last time. Slow-roasting tomatoes requires such little effort, and livens up any side dish, soup, salad, breakfast or brunch plate, sandwich or garnish for meat. Or simply smear the tomatoes and garlic with cheese on a slab of bread – voila! I like to add them to simply cooked vegetables – like steamed green beans – with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and dusting of fresh herbs and parmesan.
Dress up your tomatoes with any fresh herbs and a smattering of your favorite oil and balsamic vinegar. I do not include quantities in this recipe, because frankly, you can't go wrong with too much olive oil and too little rosemary - or vice versa. This recipe will turn out perfectly if you tend towards a heavier - or lighter - hand.
- Cherry tomatoes - 2 pints
- Garlic - 1 head, cloves separated
- Ghee - 6 tablespoons, melted (substitute with butter, peanut or safflower oil)
- Balsamic vinegar - 2 tablespoons
- Fresh herbs - About 1/3 cup, minced (ex. rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage)
- Sea salt - 1 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Preheat the oven to 225 F.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes and add to a ceramic baking dish or a foil-lined baking sheet with the garlic cloves. (Keep the cloves in their skin. Once roasted, you can pop them out, spread on bread or add to dips, dressings and sauces.)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ghee, balsamic vinegar, minced fresh herbs, salt and pepper to form the dressing.
- Use your hands to toss and evenly coat the tomatoes and garlic cloves with the dressing. Spread in an even layer in the baking dish or on the baking sheet.
- Roast the tomatoes and garlic for at least one hour, but preferably up to three hours for a richer, sweeter taste.
- Storage: You can cover the tomatoes in olive oil and store in a glass jar for up to 3 weeks, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Though they won't last that long!