Intensify the taste of tart green tomatoes with a long, slow roast
If you're a gardener here in Britain, and one without the benefit of a greenhouse, you too may start the growing season optimistically planting tomato plants because that's just what you do - I mean, everyone grows tomatoes... even if in our climate the reality often is that we hit September with buckets of unripe, green tomatoes.
And you might be like me and already have a larder full of green tomato chutney and green tomato ketchup dating back so many years that it may contain tomatoes that have now naturally ripened... so what to do with this year's 'crop'?
I had the idea that roasting might be the answer to the problem - as a long slow roast would surely bring out natural sugars and help the tomatoes almost ripen in the pan (of course, this was a sort of tomato fantasy - as the tomatoes firmly stayed the colour of Fungus the Bogeyman), but they did become edible, and more than that - they became delicious.
What you'll need:
A baking tray full of green tomatoes, quartered or halved, depending on size
5 or 6 garlic cloves
Herbs de Provence
Oven on at only 175C, which is hard for me, as usually everything is blasted at 200C, or 'standard' as my husband says. (This is because I like to pretend my single electric oven is an Aga).
Start by washing the tomatoes, unless the inevitable autumn downpour or two has done the job for you. Then roughly quarter or halve them, using enough tomatoes until you cover the bottom of the tray you're using. Also, if the tomatoes are really unripe cut out some of their core - it just won't soften in the roast. Don't overfill the tray - but you might as well squeeze in as many as possible. Let's face it, if you're like us and over optimistically planted tomatoes, you'll have plenty. Toss the cut tomatoes with a good couple of slugs of olive oil and about 2tsp salt (I used some fancy Normandy sea salt, but I'm sure normal table salt will be OK). Jiggle them around on the baking tray so that they mostly face cut-side upwards, then pop in a few cloves of garlic (hard nobby ends cut off, but otherwise left as they are), a few torn basil leaves and a sprinkling of herbs de Provence. That's it. Oven for 2hrs minimum - after 2hrs some of the larger tomatoes were still a little hard at the bits of core I'd left in, although the smaller ones were soft and delicious.
A brilliant variation would be to peel the garlic cloves (once cooked and cooled) and then blitz everything, adding it to a little bit of passata to make a really tasty pasta sauce. Or this soup, which is epic.
I know I can't claim absolute ownership of this recipe - although it did come to me in a rather 'eureka' type way. But, as I just wanted to check that unripe tomatoes wouldn't kill us I did google 'roasting green tomatoes' and some mostly American websites came up, reassuring me that yes, you can roast them; no they won't look nice; but yes... they will be super tasty.