It was not a stellar year for my tomato plants this season. Though I harvested quite a few, it was certainly not a typical year. Cool nights, flooding rains and cooler-than-average daytime temps do not make for happy, bountiful tomato plants.
The exception to all of this were my cherry tomato plants, which went absolutely insane. Typically, I only plant one cherry tomato plant but, somehow, I mixed up “Cherokee” and “Cherry” in my planting and markings, so this year I had 3. Yeah, 3. Holy moly.
What to do with a surplus of cherry tomatoes? Aside from eating them like candy from the bowls on our kitchen counter (for the love of all that’s holy, do not refrigerate tomatoes, please) and tossing them into every single salad I make, we also gave a ton away. Still, the bounty overflowed. If you’re having a party, skewers of cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls and a leaf or two of fresh garden basil make a lovely appetizer. You can also make an a amazing fresh tomato salsa with cherry tomatoes, just like you would with their larger counterparts: toss with chopped onion, jalapeno and cilantro, drizzle with lime juice, sprinkle with salt and serve. Of course, you can also make canned salsa with cherry tomatoes, but that’s a whole other post. Cherry tomatoes are a beautiful thing, so when you’ve exhausted all of the ways to use them fresh, you’ll want to preserve the rest of them.
Here’s one way that I like to preserve cherry tomatoes: roasting them with olive oil, salt, garlic and fresh herbs. Very similar to my other oven roasted tomato recipe, this one simply involves cherry tomatoes instead of roma tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes are typically sweeter than larger tomatoes, but these still work great for soups, sauces and spreads. And if you’re looking for a great way to preserve cherry tomatoes, this is certainly a delicious way to do so, as these freeze really well.
This is more of a “how-to-prepare” post than it is an actual recipe. How you do this will depend on how many tomatoes you have, how much time you have, and what herbs you’d like to add.
oven roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic and fresh herbs
- Lay clean cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet
- Top with chopped garlic
- Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs of your choice (or, be lazy like me and just top with large sprigs of fresh herbs
- Sprinkle generously with kosher or sea salt
- Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil
I like to crush the herbs with my hands at this point – it helps release their flavorful oils.
Roast in oven until they begin to break open and caramelize on the tops and edges. I usually speed this process along by gently pressing the partially-cooked tomatoes with a large spatula. Be careful though or you’ll end up with an oven full of hot tomato juice.
I’ve done these long and slow in a low oven and done these fast in a very hot oven. Either way really works, as long as you’re keeping an eye on them and don’t let them burn. If you do them in a slow oven and they’re cooked well but not caramelized, pop them under the broiler for a few closely-watched minutes and they’ll brown right up.
Also, if I’m using whole herbs, I take them off if they roast faster than the tomatoes. Inevitably, some of the roasted herbs break off into the tomatoes and that’s just fine.
Remove from oven and cool.
Transfer to the freezer-safe packaging of your choice and refrigerate until well chilled and then freeze.
You can thaw these and drizzle with extra olive oil for a great crostini or bruschetta recipe at the holidays. Adding some creamy mozzarella or pungent parmesan helps cut through the sweetness of the tomatoes.
They’re also great in soups, stews and sauces. I’ve done numerous trays in the oven at one time, which helps me justify turning the oven on in the middle of summer.
Beautiful stuff, right? This is one of my favorite ways to preserve the fresh summer bounty of tomatoes. I hope you love them, too!