Now aren’t these some of the most dramatic tomatoes you’ve ever seen? Slathered with tenebrism equal to Caravaggio, they’ll make you want to pull a Mike Teavee and pluck one from that green slick of olive oil.
Too bad they’re impostors! O day of pestilence and fraud!
I know the correct rules for making tomato confit; Chez Pim has a lovely post about the process (it’s also rife with gastroporn—NSFW, if you work at Sizzler or something), as does David Lebovitz. I’ve made it a couple of times before, with their respective guidelines in mind. The process has never disappointed me, as it fills my apartment with softly ripening tomato scents, leavened by marjoram or thyme or whatever’s cheapest at the market—er, I mean, whatever’s
moldering in the crisper verdant and fresh in my fridge. It leaves you with tomatoes that melt their way into dishes you choose to bless with them: perfect, red-and-amber distillations of summer. Most importantly (this being a blog about cooking while indigent), it tastes richly of the good life despite the everyday ingredients needed for its making.
But slow-roasting and oven-drying tomatoes is labor-(and hyphen-)intensive, and in summer, my oven takes a truculent attitude towards being used. Usually, I imagine my oven as crochety but essentially good-humored, like Fyvush Finkel. In the summer, however, my oven is Lewis Black. On Tax Day. I can’t even set it at 250° without the apartment roiling in heat waves.
What’s a gal with an insatiable jones to do?
Stovetop Tomato ‘Confit,‘ that’s what! Dios mio, how sacrilegious.
But it allows you to sip your sake-and-lemonade in style. Much like a sake-and-lemonade, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
Stovetop Tomato ‘Confit’
Serving sizes will vary.
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf (alternatively, you can use 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme or marjoram, or 1 tsp. of dried oregano)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Halve the tomatoes and reserve. In a deep skillet, over the lowest heat allowable, lightly warm the olive oil for 1-2 minutes. Grate pepper into the oil, add bay leaf (or other herbs, if using), and gently swirl skillet. Add tomatoes, cut side down, and cook, monitoring only occasionally, until very soft, about 25 minutes. Salt sparingly. Decanted into glass containers, it’s best eaten within 3 days.
Note: You may turn the tomatoes, if you like, but I find that they cook just as well without any interference.