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Spicy Corn Chowder

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summer corn chowder 2.jpgMany years ago when I was going to fashion design school in San Francisco, a friend took  me to a cafe near Union Square on a blustery cold day.  I ordered their corn chowder.  It was better than any corn chowder I'd ever had and I have wished many times over the years that I had been paying attention to my food then the way I do now and taken notes.  It was thick, not runny; it was creamy but not too milky; it was spicy without being heavy with heat.  It had cilantro in it.

That cafe has been closed down for at least 15 years. 

For some reason I've been remembering that bowl of chowder I ate 20 years ago a lot this summer, so I decided it was time to recreate it from distant memory.  After several batches I present to you one of the best things you can make with summer corn.  Chowder sounds like it's meant to only be eaten in the cold weather but corn is at its best in the summer so if you can still get some at your farmer's market, give this a try right away, even if it's still hot where you live. 

My friend Chelsea (a major inspiration for starting Stitch and Boots) suggested I make a stock out of the corn cobs and it was brilliant because the soup had a lot more flavor than when I've made it in the past.  It really isn't too much trouble.  Cook the cobs down while you prep the rest of your ingredients and do some other kitchen chores.  It's well worth the effort make the stock out of the cobs.

corn stack 2.jpgSpicy Corn Chowder
serves 4-6


7-8 ears of corn
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp salt
30 grinds of pepper (or 1/4 tsp)
1 quart corn cob stock
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 med. onion diced fine
1 celery stalk sliced thinly
4 med round potatoes diced med/small
5 cups corn kernels
1 can evaporated milk (or 1 cup milk)
2-3 jalapenos, roasted, peeled, and finely minced
2 tbsp finely minced cilantro

Sour cream for garnish

corn stock 2.jpgMethod:

Bring two quarts of water to a boil in a stock pot.  Cut the kernels off the corn and set the kernels aside in a bowl for later.  Break the corn cobs in half and put them in the pot.  Boil the cobs until the stock is reduced to 1 quart (this takes about 40 minutes for me but times may very).

Remove the cobs and set the stock aside.

In a soup pot prepare a roux using the flour, butter, salt, and pepper.  Pour the corn cob stock slowly into the roux whisking briskly to remove any lumps and once all the stock is poured, let the veloute* thicken.

burnt on purpose peppers 2.jpgHeat up the olive oil in a medium saute pan and saute the onion and celery until the onion is beginning to brown slightly (this adds more flavor to the chowder).  Remove from the heat and add to the thickened veloute.

Add the potatoes, corn, and jalapenos to the chowder.  Stir frequently to prevent the bottom from burning.  Let the chowder cook until the potatoes are completely done, around 30 minutes.  Turn the heat off and add the milk and the cilantro, stirring them in well.  Let it cool a little before serving.

Top with a couple of tbsp of sour cream and serve!

corn chowder chop 2.jpg

Recipe Notes:  You can use a lot more cilantro and the soup will still be great.  I made one batch with a whole bunch of cilantro and though it was good, I wanted the emphasis to be on the corn so the next batch I used just 2 tbsp and thought the balance was much nicer.  You can also garnish with some additional cilantro if you like. 

The chowder is just as good without the evaporated milk (I made it both ways) but a true chowder has milk and I like the flavor it adds so I prefer the version with milk.  A word about the jalapenos- mine were very hot and 3 of them was almost too much but I later bought peppers from a different vendor at the market and they barely had any heat.  So my suggestion is to only use two if your pepper are especially hot this year and you don't want the soup to be super spicy.

One more thing- if you don't have fresh corn on hand and want to use canned or frozen, 5 cups might be an awkward amount (it's the amount I got off of 8 ears of corn).  Don't worry about it.  Use whatever quantity comes closest in canned or frozen without wasting any.  A little difference in quantity of corn one way or the other won't ruin this chowder.

*Technically a veloute is made with beef or chicken stock but when making a vegetarian dish you always substitute meat stocks with vegetable stock so while it isn't a true veloute, this is a vegetarian version of one.

This recipe is vegan if you make the roux with olive oil instead of butter and omit adding the evaporated milk.

Related article:

How to Make a Roux
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Tomato and Basil Strata Recipe

egg strata 2.jpgThe first time I tasted an egg strata was at my cousin Christa's house in Wisconsin.  It's a great dish to make for brunches because you can assemble it the night before and throw it in the oven 45 minutes before you want to eat it.  It's filling and offers everything in one dish that you should ideally start your day with (protein, grain, and vegetable).

One thing you need to bear in mind when you make an egg strata is that you must let it sit at least for one hour before baking so that the toast becomes saturated with the egg and milk mixture.   

My recipe calls for a lot of eggs and if that makes you hesitant you need to consider that this recipe generously serves 8 people (or can be cut even smaller if you have other dishes to serve) which means that each serving has just 1 1/2 eggs in it.  That's not too many eggs to eat for breakfast!

About the bread.  Most strata recipes call for good quality French bread or a brioche loaf.  I used a great local bread called "sesame white" which has good flavor and no gluey factor.  We usually use whole wheat bread and I would wholeheartedly suggest you use wheat if you have it.  However, I buy the sesame white to make croutons with (because they dry nice and light and not hard) and so this is what I had the first time I made it.  I liked it so much that I bought more sesame white.  Bread comes in all shapes and sizes so how much bread you'll need to toast may vary a little from what I used.  Keep that in mind.  This is a regular sliced sandwich bread size. If you use a french bread the slices may be half the size of what I used.

Egg stratas lend themselves to lots of variations and I encourage you to play with the possibilities!

Tomato and Basil Strata

serves 8

8 slices of good quality bread
1 tbsp butter for greasing your baking dish
12 eggs
2 cups milk
10 large basil leaves (or one small bunch) julienned
1 tsp salt
30 grinds of pepper
6 large tomatoes
2 cups grated jack cheese


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place the bread slices on baking sheets and toast them until lightly toasted and dried out.  Be sure to turn them over so they get toasted on both sides.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and milk together and then add the basil, salt, and pepper to it and beat a little more to mix well.

Slice the tomatoes in rounds (somewhere between 1/4" and 3/8" thick is good).

toast for strata 2.jpgGrease a 9x13" baking dish with butter.  When the toast is ready layer the bottom of the baking dish with them.  It was helpful with the shape of my bread to break the slices up a bit to fit them in well.

making strata 2.jpgCover the toast with a layer of sliced tomatoes.  Make a second layer of toast and beat the eggs again before pouring evenly over the whole dish. Place a second layer of tomatoes on the top, cover the baking dish, and let it sit for at least an hour.

Twenty minutes before it's ready to be baked, turn your oven on to 350 degrees.  The strata will take 45 minutes to cook.  I don't put the grated cheese on the top until it's been in for a half an hour.  After it's cooked for 40 minutes at 350 I put the broiler on and let the cheese get bubbly and slightly browned, which in my oven takes about 5 minutes.

tomato layer 2.jpgThese are some of the most beautiful tomatoes I've ever seen!  The first layer were all red ones.  I liked the mix a lot.

a corner of broiled cheese 2.jpg
Recipe Notes:  You can use whatever kind of cheese you like that melts well.  Jack is one of my very favorite cheeses for covering casseroles with but a gruyere would also be really nice.  My mom thought I should have used more basil but I didn't want the herb flavor to overpower the flavor of the tomatoes which were at their peak of flavor.  I nearly always use a 2% milk but you can use whole milk or skim if you prefer.  I know some recipes even call for cream.  

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Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes

ricotta stuffed toms 2.jpgThis is a very simple dish to make.  I always make my own ricotta but you can very satisfactorily use store bought which makes this dish also fast to put together.  If you have the time though, I highly recommend trying homemade ricotta as it has a sweeter fresher flavor than store bought.

I use this ricotta blend for stuffing other things as well, including lasagna.  The secret ingredient is nutmeg.  My mother, who lived in Rome for two years when she was a kid, taught me to put nutmeg in ricotta and though it seems strange- it is delicious!  If you hate nutmeg, leave it out.   

ricotta for stuffing 2.jpgRicotta Stuffed Tomatoes
serves 9


9 medium summer tomatoes (firm)
15 ounces ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 egg
12 big basil leaves, julienned
3/4 tsp salt
3 shakes nutmeg
15 grinds fresh pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the top of the tomatoes off and hollow them out being careful not to rip them up (you can see in the picture that I ripped a couple of mine).

In a big bowl mix all the remaining ingredients using a fork so that the egg gets broken and mixed in well.

Place the tomatoes in a pie dish and fill each one up with the ricotta mixture making sure to heap it up at the top a little.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Then turn your oven broiler on and broil them until the tops turn golden (in my oven this is less than five minutes). 

ricotta stuffing 2.jpgThese make a great side dish or you can eat them as your main dish with a salad for a light dinner.  You can eat the leftovers for lunch.   

stuffed tomato with fork 2.jpg

Recipe notes:  Don't use tomatoes that have already passed their peak and are soft because they'll fall apart.  You can drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes before baking if you like.  I didn't use it for myself because it really wasn't necessary and I like that this dish is pretty light in the calorie department.  Olive oil would definitely add a bit more richness to the dish.   This recipe can easily be halved but I would still use one egg in the ricotta because it would be silly to waste a half and egg and though you can omit it all together, I like including an egg for extra protein and it lends more substance to the ricotta.

This recipe is Gluten Free

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Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe

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another macro salsa 2.jpgIf you don't have fresh local tomatoes grown outside in the sunshine, don't bother making this recipe.  I'm not being a tomato snob, I'm really not.  With recipes where you roast or cook tomatoes you can coax more flavor out of less than stellar fruits, but when making recipes with fresh tomatoes you need the very best. 

I learned to make this fresh tomato salsa from my friend Norman's good friend Margie, about 19 years ago.   

Fresh Tomato Salsa

yields one big bowl of salsa


6 ripe slicing tomatoes
1 small red onion
2 Serrano chilies
1 bunch cilantro, minced
1 lime
1/2 tsp salt

burnt skin 2.jpgMethod:

Cut the tomatoes width-wise, exposing the pockets of seeds, and over the sink or your compost squeeze the seeds out.  After removing the core, dice them into 1/2" pieces, put in a large bowl. 

Dice the red onion fine, and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes.    

Roast the Serrano chilies by pushing onto a skewer (metal or wood, doesn't matter) and hold over an open flame.  Turn the chilies around so all of the skin is charred.  Once the peppers are blackened and cooled enough not to give you a second degree burn from handling, rinse them in cold water, peeling the charred skin off.  Mince them into very fine bits and add them to the bowl.

Mince the cilantro very fine and add to the bowl with everything else.

Quarter the lime and squeeze it into the bowl.

Add the salt.

Now stir it up really well and eat it right away.

minced pepper 2.jpg
Recipe Notes:  I like it best eaten right away but Philip thinks it's best after sitting for a few hours.  It will become watery at the  bottom of the bowl.  The heat of peppers varies, Serranos are generally a pretty hot pepper but I've bought some that were a lot more mild than I was expecting.  This is usually a pretty mild salsa.  If you would like more heat: add more peppers. 

Check out our other salsa recipe:
Pico de Gallo

This is a vegan recipe.
This is a gluten free recipe.

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Baked Garlic Eggplant Recipe

baked garlic eggplant 2.jpg
Like so many people I know I didn't love eggplant when I was growing up.  I didn't hate it but it was last on my list of vegetables to cook for myself when I left home because my mom didn't know how to turn the dry flesh into succulent eating.  I know how to do this now and the secret is simple.


The first brilliant eggplant experience I had was when I was twenty five years old.  A friend came to Philip's birthday party for which we were making spaghetti and her gift was an eggplant.  I'm afraid we weren't particularly enthusiastic.  She took one look at our faces and decided that an eggplant in our hands might be a terrible thing so she marched into our little city kitchen and taught us how to make eggplant that no one could dislike.  There was butter and baking involved.  True to her word, we became fans of everything eggplant from that moment on.

I don't cook with butter very often.  I prefer olive oil.  Either way, the very best eggplant is always cooked with fat.  That's my opinion and no one will budge me from it.

This way of cooking eggplant will yield a very soft somewhat buttery flesh (even though it's made with olive oil) and renders the skin tender.  The garlic bakes until it's golden, rich, and has a mild nutty flavor.  If you like a firm eggplant treatment* you won't like this.  I think it's sublime put on a slice of good bread with stone-ground brown spicy mustard and a thin slice of mild nutty cheese (such as Fontina).  It can also be used to make a great eggplant spread or added to a pasta sauce.

Baked Garlic Eggplant Recipe

4 small round eggplants (or 2 large ones)
1 whole head of garlic (two if the heads are very small)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the tops off of all the eggplants and then cut them in half lengthwise.  Using a sharp knife cut slashes into the flesh diagonally- you want to cut down to about 1/2" from the skin.  Don't cut all the way through.  Then cut slashes diagonally in the opposite direction.  Put the halves onto a baking sheet.

Peel all the garlic cloves.  Leave small cloves whole but cut large ones in half lengthwise.  Divide them between all the eggplant halves evenly.  Stuff the garlic into the cuts in the eggplant. 

Drizzle the olive oil over the eggplant.  Use all of it.  Grind pepper onto the eggplant halves and sprinkle salt on them. 

Bake the eggplant for 40 minutes and then check it.  Baking times will depend on the size of your eggplants.  Even large ones should be done under an hour.  When the garlic and the top of the eggplants have turned golden and the flesh is soft when you press a fork into it, they're done.

Recipe Notes:  You can cook eggplant faster in a hotter oven but you won't get the melting quality of the flesh that way.  I love grilled eggplant but this recipe is about getting a succulence out of the eggplant that grilling (or roasting in a hotter oven) won't achieve. 

*Really?  If anyone truly likes a firm eggplant treatment, may I suggest they hightail it to Aberfoyle to the local time-share restaurant on the hill where you can get a plate of salad with raw eggplant in it.  I happen to love the Scottish best of all people on earth but I have to say that they do not know the proper treatment of an eggplant.  What can you expect of a restaurant that thinks chicken soup is vegetarian?  But really, I love Abberfoyle.  Nothing could be more charming than the tiny farm store at the bottom of the hill with the surly people in it and the scary dog.  I've been twice and will go again!

Summer White Bean And Basil Salad Recipe

summer bean salad 2.jpgOne of my favorite beans is the navy bean.  I make a lot of bean salads with them because there is no vegetable and no herb that don't pair well with them.  Unlike many other beans they have a mild presence which I find charming. 

I nearly always add feta to my bean salads but this one is so good just as it is, so tangy and flavorful, that I didn't miss the cheese for a second.  Considering that I think life without cheese isn't worth living, that's saying a lot.

Summer White Bean and Basil Salad Recipe


1 pound green beans
6 cups cooked navy beans
1/2 cup fresh basil dressing
1/2 red onion (sliced very thinly in 1" long pieces)

basil bean salad 2.jpg

Trim the ends off the green beans and cut them in half.  Steam the beans just until tender (this usually takes 3-5 minutes). 

Put the navy beans into a medium sized bowl and pour the dressing into them, mixing very well.  Stir in the steamed green beans and the onion. 

You can eat this right away but it's best if you let it sit for at least an hour so that the beans can marinate in the dressing for a while.


Recipe Notes:  You can add other summery things to this salad such as cucumbers, tomatoes, or feta cheese.  If you add tomatoes to it I suggest you only add it to portions you are certain to eat the same day.  Tomatoes don't fare well cut in salads and kept overnight in the fridge.  You can use great northern or cannellini beans in place of the navy beans. 

This recipe is gluten free: provided you use only gluten free vinegar in the dressing.
This recipe is vegan.
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Fresh Basil Dressing Recipe

basil dressing.jpg
Something I've discovered in my picture taking learning curve is that in the final exam called "how to take a tantalizing picture of dressing" I have failed.  I would like to say in my defense that taking pictures of dressing seems to be a challenge for many people. 

I have been hearing the evil phrase "Too much basil!" being uttered by many silly gardeners and food bloggers.  This is a proclamation I have no patience with.  I have never had great luck in producing an "overabundance" of basil, no matter how hard I try.  What I wouldn't give to have so much basil I could experience basil exhaustion.  The truth is, however, that there is no such thing for me.  Too much basil?  You will miss it like a lost limb in midwinter, so make a million batches of pesto to freeze!  Use it in salads, or ratatouille (also to freeze!), in pasta dishes, in ricotta for stuffing those ubiquitous zucchinis everyone also claims to get so sick of they could throw up at the sight of another one...

Basil is one of the single most versatile herbs I know of and though you can dry it, I have always felt that dried basil is a travesty of fresh.  Frozen basil is far superior to dried as well, provided you freeze it with oil to protect its lush greenness.

Most dressings I make I use dried herbs because I make large batches and sometimes the fresh herbs will brown before I get to using them.  However, I highly recommend making this fresh basil dressing, make it in a single batch and use it up within a week and you won't regret it.  Regret it?  No, you'll LOVE it!  I have already used it on a summer white bean salad (recipe coming soon) and as a dressing for pasta.  If you think pesto is too heavy or you want the fresh basil flavor but without cheese, you have got to try putting half a cup of this dressing on a pound of cooked pasta with roasted vegetables.

But obviously, this dressing will also shine on a simple fresh summer salad.

Fresh Basil Dressing


1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 bunch basil (about 2 cups loosely packed)
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard (or your own favorite mustard)
1/2 tsp salt
25 grinds of fresh black pepper


Put all the ingredients together into either a blender or into a container big and deep enough for an immersion blender to work well.  Blend it until all the basil is finely chopped and the dressing is creamy. 

Recipe notes:  If you don't like mustard it's still very good without it.  I like mustard so much I use a lot of it in most of my salad dressings.  It makes the dressing tangy which I love and this tanginess is surprisingly wonderful on pasta.  I also find that prepared mustard adds body to a dressing which I like. 

Oregano Garlic Zucchini Recipe

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oregano zuch 2.jpg

I don't buy summer squash in the fall, winter, or spring so when it finally shows up at the farmer's market I can't get enough of it.  I know that zucchini is the proverbial pest in the kitchen garden for its fecund habits, but I have never once in my life had so much zucchini I had to worry about fobbing it off on others.  I love it grilled, roasted, stuffed, steamed, and sauteed.  The only way I don't like it is raw.

This simple recipe is my all time favorite way to eat them.  You can make this and eat is as a side or you can add it to pasta, couscous*, or rice.  You can add it to almost any other dish.  I love it best just like this!

Oregano Garlic Zucchini
serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium sized summer squash
4 stems of fresh oregano
2 large garlic cloves


Wash and slice the zucchini: if they are thin just cut in 1/4" rounds, if they are thick, cut in half lengthwise first and then cut in 1/4" half rounds.

Strip the leaves off the oregano stems and mince fine.

Have your garlic loaded into a garlic press OR mince it fine.

Pour the oil in a large saute pan and turn the burner to high.  When the oil is hot** put in the zucchini and let some of them brown but not burn, they cook fast so don't walk away from them.  It usually takes about five minutes to get some good roasted bits. 

One minute before taking the pan off the heat add the oregano and garlic.  You don't need them in the heat long.  Be sure to stir them in well.

Remove the pan from the stove and they're ready to eat.

Recipe notes:
  Any summer squash will be fantastic made this way.  I don't even salt and pepper mine but of course you can add either if you prefer.  Salt is a real flavor enhancer but in this dish the oregano and garlic are flavorful enough for me.  The worst thing that can happen when cooking summer squash is to over cook them.  As soon as you see the slices start turning from chalk white to translucent, they are almost done cooking. 

*Which is technically teeny tiny balls of pasta.

**To check if oil is hot, flick a little drop of water in it, if it crackles, the oil is hot.  But obviously, be careful because it can spatter and hurt you if you flick too much water into hot oil.  Or, of course, you can test it by putting one slice of zucchini in the pan, the oil should be hot enough that the zucchini start to sizzle a bit.

This recipe is vegan.
This recipe is gluten free.

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Ratatouille: Lisa E's Version

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ratatouille grilled 2

These are the vegetables on the grill.  You can broil the eggplant separately in the oven at 450 degrees if you are doing a huge batch and need more room on the grill for the summer squash, peppers, and onions.

 ratatouille roasted 2

The vegetables are done when they are cooked all the way through but aren't mushy.

 ratatouille tomatoes 2

Cook the tomatoes while the vegetables are all grilling and/or broiling.

ratatouille basil 2

You can use other seasonings for ratatouille such as thyme, bay leaves, or herbes de Provence, but Lisa and I both prefer to simply use a truck load of fresh basil added right as you remove the ratatouille from the heat.

 ratatouille 2

There are as many recipes for ratatouille as there are passionate cooks.  A traditional ratatouille is made by cooking the various ingredients separately first and then layer them in a casserole and then baked.  The main (important components) of ratatouille are: eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, sweet peppers, fresh basil, and garlic.   There are hundreds of variations of this dish possible- you can use mushrooms, omit the peppers (I don't digest sweet peppers well and never cook with them), make it chunkier or saucier.  What you must never leave out (if you want it to still be a ratatouille) is the eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, garlic, and onions.

It should always be made in summer or early fall when all of these ingredients can be had fresh from the garden or from the farmer's market.

The following version is from Lisa E and involves roasting and grilling most of the different ingredients and then adding them to the pot of cooking tomatoes.   She doesn't give specific amounts for the ingredients because she never measures them.   My suggestion is to use roughly equal quantities of tomatoes and eggplant, slightly fewer summer squash in proportion, and even fewer sweet peppers, and for one big pot of ratatouille I would use two to three onions.  You can't use too much fresh basil and the garlic should be to your personal taste.  My preference for a giant pot would be about 10 cloves minced.

Lisa's Ratatouille

tomatoes- peeled, cored, seeds squeezed out then coarsely chopped
eggplant, zucchini, red peppers- cut lengthwise into slabs, brush with olive oil, salt  & pepper
onions- quartered, brush with olive oil, salt & pepper
garlic- loads of it finely chopped
basil: chiffonade

In a large heavy bottomed pot heat olive oil (about a quarter cup), add tomatoes and cook at medium high; continue to cook while preparing other ingredients and until tomatoes get nice and broken down and saucy.

I usually roast the eggplant in the oven at 450 while the rest of the veg is on the grill.  Usually timing works out perfect: when veg is all cooked allow to cool enough to handle then coarsely chop it all and add it to the tomatoes along with the garlic.  Simmer until the flavors develop and it gets to the consistency you like, adjust salt & pepper to taste.  Stir in the basil when you turn off the heat.

When it has cooled I usually keep enough out for dinner and the rest goes (in either 2 cup or 4 cup increments) in quart size freezer bags (squeezing out all the air) or in food saver bags to freeze and then vacuum seal when it is frozen.  It isn't high enough acid to can safely.

When I said it is a big batch technique I mean a full stockpot or if I am really ambitious I have my two biggest pots going at the same time.  That way I do it once during the season and have it stowed away in the deep freeze for meals throughout the year.

Serving Notes: I like it by itself with Parmesan, feta or goat cheese, with polenta, grilled or soft, any kind of pasta.  I have used it to make lasagna too.

Slow Oven Roasted Tomatoes

roasted toms 2

This method of slow roasting tomatoes comes to me from my good friend Lisa E.. The point isn't to completely dry the tomatoes, just to concentrate the flavors.  When they're done they'll have a thick, sweet, rich tomato flavor and the texture will be moist but not juicy.  Because you aren't drying them, they can't be stored in oil or in jars on the pantry shelf as you might do with dried tomatoes.  If you make more than you can use, you can freeze them.  I recommend using a vacuum seal if you have one.  Otherwise just squeeze as much air as you can out of a freezer bag and label it with the date they were frozen.

 thick slices 2

Slice tomatoes thickly (between 3/8" and 1/2" thick). They are going to shrink quite a bit.  If you are going to roast romas, trim off the tough stem end and slice them in half length-wise.

 foiled pan with rack 2

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch all the drippings. Then place a drying rack on top of it. This lets the oven air circulate around the tomatoes for better drying out. If you don't have one, you can still make these, just put the tomatoes directly on the foil. They won't dry out as well but you'll still get the deepened flavor. A great alternative is to use paste tomatoes which don't drip as much. Lay the sliced tomatoes out on the rack closely together. (So you can fit as many as possible on one baking sheet). Incidentally, I always do two trays at a time. I do this because I can't make small batches of things. I like to make as much as possible. Some people call this "greed", but I prefer to call it SMART.

 oiling toms 2

Brush all top sides of the tomatoes with either olive oil or other cooking oil. This will help develop a rich texture. Everything roasts better with oil.

 sugaring toms 2

Sprinkle with salt. Then sprinkle with SUGAR. Lisa says this is VERY important. If you have used a slicing tomato then turn them all over and brush the backsides with oil and sprinkle with salt and sugar. You won't have to do both sides if you use paste tomatoes.

 baking toms 2

Put them in the oven and cook for several hours. Yes, I know, it isn't a quick recipe, but it is so easy I think you won't mind the hours they tie up your oven racks. If you do two trays of them at once, I suggest switching the trays between the top and bottom rack every hour or so so that they all bake evenly.

 finished toms 2

They're done when they are dried out a bit (but aren't crisp), are half their original size, darkened in color, and smell richly of tomato. There's no exact baking time.  It should take at least 3 hours.

So what do you do with these now?  You can put them on sandwiches with roasted eggplant, cheese, and pesto.  You can slice them up to add to pasta.  You can eat them just as they are.  You can use them to top pizzas with.  You can use them in a savory tart.  You can add them to soup.  You can use these in almost any recipe that calls for reconstituted sun dried tomatoes.

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