Who swaps out plum tomatoes?
Well, whoever you are (and I’m guessing it was one of our half-dozen picker-uppers who ordered a supplemental 25-pound box from the co-op), I thank you.
Your bag plus my bag gave me a four-pound quorum—just enough for a small batch of über-concentrated tomato paste.
Another adventure in really, really slow food, this paste’ll take you upwards of five hours, but most of that is unattended. My four pounds of fruit cooked down into a half pint (plus a couple spoonfuls) of paste that’ll enrich stews, soups, and the odd Bolognese this winter.
Oven-Roasted Tomato Paste
- 4 lbs plum, paste, or Roma tomatoes (about 2 dozen)
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the sheet pan
- kosher salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 300°.
Wash and roughly chop the tomatoes. I started out coring them—and got through about half when it dawned on me that I was going to be pressing everything through a food mill later on, anyway, so why bother? I stopped bothering.
Put the tomatoes and olive oil in a wide skillet or deep saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in a little salt. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the tomatoes are quite soft.
Strain out the skins and seeds (and cores) by running the tomatoes through a food mill or fine strainer. Press out as much of the pulp and liquid as you can.
Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a rimmed 13×18″ baking sheet; smear it around with your fingers to coat the sheet evenly.
Pour the tomato purée into the sheet pan and shake to distribute evenly. Bake for about two hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.
After two hours, reduce the oven’s temperature to 250º, and bake for another 2-3 hours (still stirring every so often) until the color deepens significantly and nearly all the water has evaporated.
Spoon into small jars. In the fridge, tomato paste will keep for six weeks or so; in the freezer, you’re good for up to a year.