September brings an abundance of big, sweet tomatoes, not only on my own vines but in low-priced boxes at the farms stands. The tourists and summer people are gone but the tomatoes keep on coming, so as prices drop and the fruit gets better and better I start thinking about all the wonderful ways to use tomatoes in sauces and stews.
One of my favorite ways to start is by slow-roasting a box of tomatoes. When done, the flavor and sweetness of the tomatoes is concentrated and mingled with the herbs and the tomatoes are falling apart. I use them for pizza and pasta sauces (see, for example, Kevin's Romesco Sauce at Seriously Good) or any preparation calling for cooked tomatoes, such as my Tomato Flan or Tomato Bread Pudding.
24 ripe tomatoes, halved
2 T sage, minced
2 T oregano, minced
2 T parsley, minced
2 T thyme, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Place the tomatoes cut side down on a jellyroll pan lined with oiled parchment paper. Drizzle with additional oil and scatter on the herbs. Roast 8 hours at 175º. Allow to cool slightly and slip the skins off the tomatoes with your fingers. Discard skins and place roasted tomatoes, with the oil and herbs, in a plastic or glass container. (If desired, you can press them through a food mill while still warm, if you want a very uniform sauce base. I'm not that fussy about the seeds, and in fact I like little meaty chunks of tomato in most of the dishes I used this for, so I omit this step.) Refrigerate and use within 4 or 5 days. (I usually don't season them at this point, preferring instead to season the sauce or dish of which they become a part when it's finished.)