How to Oven-Roast Tomatoes (and Why You Should Try It)
Delicious and So Nutritious
Most of us know just how delicious a fresh garden tomato tastes, but you might not know just how nutritious this powerful fruit is.
- According to the American Cancer Society, people whose diets include lycopene-rich tomatoes may have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancer of the prostate, lungs, and stomach.
- Tomatoes offer up a healthy dose of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline, all of which support heart health.
- Your skin likes tomatoes, too! The vitamin C in tomatoes supports collagen in the skin and works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent skin damage caused by the sun and toxic pollutants.
Now, these are just a few of the many reasons one should indulge in this tasty fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit, not a veggie). Read on and learn how to make your own roasted tomatoes easily at home!
Why Not Use Pre-Packaged Sun-Dried Tomatoes?
Chemical preservatives are added to commercially dried fruit and vegetable products to maintain freshness and color. One commonly used chemical is sulfur dioxide, which can cause problems for some, including people with asthma or a sensitivity to sulfur. The World Health Organization warns that consumption or sulfites may be dangerous to one's health, especially those with an allergy or who consume high quantities. If you do purchase pre-packaged sun-dried products, look for sulfite-free on the label.
In addition to chemical preservatives, salt is often added to packaged products. Many packaged sun-dried tomatoes contain an excessive amount of sodium, especially the Turkish variety, which can contain sodium levels as high as 2000mg per 100g of the tomatoes. As always, read labels.
Roasting tomatoes in your oven is a delicious way to add this super healthy fruit to meals, without the chemical preservatives and added salt. It is very simple! Follow the easy instructions below and the suggestions for adding them to your favorite meal.
- Tomatoes, preferably cherry or grape
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Choose a quantity and type of tomato to use.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice each tomato vertically and lay skin side down, sliced side up, on top of the lined baking sheet.
- Roast in heated oven for 3-4 hours, depending on desired texture and dryness.
- Store cooled tomatoes in an air-tight container. Use within 2 days.
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- Spray tomatoes with cooking oil or toss with a teaspoon or more of extra-virgin olive oil. Please note that the tomatoes will be slightly less “dried out” with this method.
- Sprinkle with herbs, garlic powder, or freshly ground pepper. Try basil, oregano and/or parsley. Avoid adding salt. The oven-roasting process concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes, making salt and even herbs unnecessary.
- Vary roasting time for different textures and amount of dryness. Depending on how you are using the tomatoes after roasting them, you might want to alter the time. Check about every hour (and more often towards the end of your cook time) to be sure you have the amount of roasting and dryness that you want.
7 Ways to Use Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
- Toss oven-roasted tomatoes in a pasta primavera. Combine with fresh chopped tomatoes, fresh garlic, and an assortment of other steamed or roasted veggies and toss with cooked pasta. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil and top with fresh basil leaves.
- Sprinkle on top of pizza before popping in the oven. See a healthy veggie pizza recipe that uses oven-dried tomatoes here. If you want your tomatoes less charred, put them on before the cheese and other toppings or sprinkle on top about half-way through the cooking time.
- Use in a pasta salad or sprinkle on a green salad.
- Make bruschetta. Reduce the roasting time and add diced fresh tomato and slivered basil leaves. Top on toasted crostini and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
- Make an elegant appetizer. Spread goat cheese on crackers or toasted crostini and top with oven-roasted tomatoes and a sprig of basil.
- Add to casserole dishes such as mac ‘n cheese, enchiladas or most any one-pot meal.
- Snack on these tomatoes. They are great just as they are!
Should I Buy Organic Tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes have earned a spot on an exclusive list: the Dirty Dozen. This list, published annually by the Environmental Working Group, provides a listing of the twelve produce items that test positive for the greatest amounts of pesticides. In the 2014 study, a single sample of cherry tomatoes tested positive for 13 different pesticides!
Why Are Tomatoes Red?
Credit a meteorite for giving tomatoes their beautiful red hue! Some 60 to 70 million years ago a meteorite crashed onto the earth, wiped out the dinosaurs, and gave tomatoes their rich color according to scientists.1 Researches mapped the fruits' genome and found that about the time the meteorite hit and caused a solar eclipse, tomatoes tripled in size, likely to enhance the plants survival during stressful conditions.
1. Sikkema, Albert. "Red Tomatoes Thanks to Meteorite." Phys.org. Science X Network, 8 June 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.