Sounding the final note

Still, around here, it's Ode to Tomatoes. Reading top to bottom, left to right, we have this cast to sing:

Yellow Peach, Orange Banana, Amish Paste, Sun Gold Cherry, and Purple Cherokee sounding the final note.

Every day I collect them, slice them, halve them into ovals and rounds and tangled webs of seeds and stars. Then I turn on the oven, low, and roast them down—all syrupy juices, rich red flesh, crinkled skins and hollowed sides. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, they sparkle, bubble, deflate, and rise.

We eat them hot from the pan, plain, sweet. Tucked into sandwiches—basil and grilled cheese. Alex cooks them down into a slow, rich sauce—and we soak up the last of summer's heat.


I like to make these on a slightly chilly day—the kind of late-summer, early-fall afternoon when you can't excuse turning up the heat or starting a fire, but the house has a little bit of a chill. The tomatoes take a few hours on low heat to bake down, and the heat spills out into the kitchen, and then the dining room, and slowly upstairs.

Any variety of tomato works well, although I don't usually bother with the cherries. They lose so much size in the oven, they're hardly worth the trouble.

fresh-picked tomatoes
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Wash the tomatoes and pick off any stems; then slice them in half through the middle, so that the cut makes a top and a bottom rather than two sides. Arrange the halves face-up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for roughly 2 hours, or until the tomatoes give up their juices and curl up—tender, sweet, and rich. Eat warm, straight off the baking sheet, tossed over pasta with basil, or layered into a hot grilled-cheese sandwich.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.