When I come home after my weekly visit to the East Nashville Farmers Market, I like to make trays of Roasted Tomatoes with Thyme and Garlic to jazz-up pastas, sandwiches, omelettes, and more. The East Nashville Farmers Market has every tomato variety under the summer sun — beefsteak, cherry, pear, plum, and grape — and each can be used in this easy recipe. I like to leave our market with bags full of heirlooms that come in a kaleidoscope of colors such as red, orange, green, yellow, and purple to roast and store in my refrigerator for weekend meal possibilities.
Roasting tomatoes is not only a great way to avoid waste, but also a fantastic way to coax out the complex flavors of the fruit. Tomatoes caramelize when slowly roasted at low oven temperatures, intensifying the sugars and evaporating wateriness. This creates a sweeter flavor with a more vigorous, succulent texture that is less chewy than an dried tomato.
I begin my roasted tomatoes with a saucepan of extra-virgin olive oil, thyme sprigs, and crushed garlic cloves. I heat the pan until the thyme and garlic have fully infused the oil — about 5 minutes, swirling the pan intermittently. I remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool slightly while I slice my tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes can be roasted whole or sliced in halve, but I prefer to slice them in half because I love the appearance. Beefsteak tomatoes should be sliced around 1/2 an inch, depending on how long you can wait for them to roast — the thicker the slice, the longer it will take to get that meaty texture you’re looking for. The thinner the slice, and your tomato might roast down too much.
Once my tomatoes are sliced, I toss them in a mixing bowl with my thyme and garlic infused oil and a little salt and pepper, and add a few extra thyme leaves and chopped garlic cloves to the mix. I arrange my tomatoes in a single layer on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for an hour or two until my tomatoes are roasted to my liking. They can be stored in the refrigerator within an air tight container for multiple weeks, and can be frozen for months.