The origin story of this recipe is simple: I made it to prevent my family from stealing my produce.
I had picked up a few pints of gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes from a local farm and was giddy (a very carefully chosen word to accurately describe my demeanor) at the potential of what I could cook with them. However, throughout the day I began to notice my bounty of rainbow beauties shrinking as everyone in the house began searching for snacks.
I had to act fast, so I decided to confit them in the oven to concentrate their flavor while leaving their culinary possibilities open.
When I tell you this is the easiest and most delicious recipe you’ll make all summer, I’m not kidding. If you use delicious, ripe tomatoes that are bursting with sweetness and umami, this preparation will only make them better.
In a baking dish, toss the cherry tomatoes with olive oil (the confit part), lemon zest (for a pop of acidity and brightness), garlic (for earthy sweetness as it caramelizes in the oven), red pepper flakes (for spicing up your life) and salt (because it’s a tomato’s best friend).
Throw the whole thing in a low oven for an hour and you’ll be pulling out pure gold. This gives enough time to let the sugars in the tomatoes and garlic caramelize while allowing the flavorful juices to release from the tomatoes without turning them to mush.
Once I got here, I knew I had a great building block to a countless number of dishes. Here’s a breakdown of a few paths you can take with your tomato confit (get the recipe at the bottom of the page).
While it might seem completely too watery to be a sauce at first, I will assure you it’s the best thing to toss your noods in. Bring the confit to a simmer in a pot or a large sauté pan. Then, add 1 pound of pasta that you’ve cooked super al dente (read: two minutes shy of being done) and finish in the pan. The pasta will soak up that extra liquid and the tomatoes will dissolve into a delicious sauce.
Creamy risotto can and should receive the same hit of tomato flavor as the aforementioned pasta. Toss in the confit for the last few minutes of cooking to get soaked up by the rice before making it rain Parm and basil.
While I’ve already schooled you on the beauty of a tomato toast, these bad boys will also do the trick. Toasted slices of sourdough topped with whipped ricotta make the perfect beds for these juicy gems, which can be finished with fresh herbs and flaky salt (and maybe some extra citrus zest if you’re fancy).
This concoction makes a great base for gazpacho, since all the ingredients overlap. Simply throw it in a blender with fresh heirloom tomatoes, lemon juice, herbs, onions and cucumber, then purée. The resulting soup will have a more pronounced tomato flavor with deep richness and notes of roasted garlic.
Now get the recipe for the confit below.
Cherry Tomato Confit
Yields: a scant quart
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
4 heaping cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, combine all the ingredients and toss to coat. Bake until tomatoes have popped and the garlic is caramelized, 1 hour. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl to cool.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.