I can’t stop buying tomatoes. The tomatoes in the Bay area right now are just incredible. All these fantastic colors and they just taste amazing. Fresh and sweet and not grey and mealy tasting like those sad supermarket tomatoes. As a result, I just keep buying them. At the farmers market near my house, at the farmers market near my office, at the Berkeley Bowl, everywhere I see them, every chance I get. I pile them up on my counter in those green plastic pint baskets and throw them in pasta, make pickled tomatoes for friends, or just to eat with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt.
So that my tomato eating keeps pace with my tomato buying, I’ve been looking for recipes that lets me use pounds of them at once. And along came tomato confit. It appeared in my blog reader in a few different forms, and I loved the idea from Herbivoracious to make a risotto with it. I loosely adapted his approach, which he loosely adapted from Tom Colicchio.
The finished product was amazing. I think the standard tomato suggestion is romas, but I used 2 pounds of dry farmed Early Girls. If you can get your hands on these, I highly recommend them. Not just because using such a specific tomato makes this recipe sound like an important, ingredients-obsessed chef at a farm to table type restaurant, but because they are really, really delicious, don’t have a lot of water (this is important), and roast up just beautifully.
The confit is basically slow roasted tomatoes, rich with olive oil and lusciously sweet. I stirred that into a basic risotto and had myself a lovely dinner.
Finally, I’ve always been a bit confused on what the official serving size for risotto is. I think this would probably serve 3 people as a main course, though it’s really delicious and 2 very hungry people would probably not have too much trouble destroying it. If you are cooking for 4 or more, I’d double it.
Risotto with Tomato Confit
Inspired by Herbivoracious
For the tomato confit
15 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (about 2 pounds), such as Early Girls, halved and cored
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
A few cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of herbs (I used thyme, though any woody herb would work)
Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil. Don’t use a silpat, though one of those deep 9X11 type pans would work.
Toss the halved tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper and place them cut-side down on the baking sheet. Squeeze in the peeled garlic cloves and thyme around the tomatoes, drizzling with the oil left in the bowl.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the skins have begun to loosen. Pour off and reserve any juice. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes until you can easily peel off the skins without burning yourself. Honestly, if you can’t get the skins off, don’t worry about it. I had a few on and it didn’t really affect the finished product.
Lower the heat to 275 F. and return the pan to the oven.
Every half-an-hour or so, pour off and reserve the juice. You’ll probably only need to do this 1 or 2 more times, depending on how dry the tomatoes were to start with. The original recipe suggests roasting them for a total of 4 hours, until they have given up a lot of moisture and a very tender but still moist. I found I reached this point at just under 3 hours. I might have been able to go a bit longer, but I was concerned that any more time and they’d dry out, so I stopped. In any event, use your judgment. The tomatoes should have a concentrated tomato flavor, and still be soft and rich from the oil.
When they are finished, remove from the oven. If you aren’t going to make the risotto (or anything else with them) right away, store in the refridgerator in some oil (not the reserved juice. Store that, just seperately.)
For the risotto
The reserved tomato water (measure it, and then add enough water or broth to have a total of 4 cups of liquid)
4 tablespoons of the oil
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
all of the roasted tomato halves (give them a coarse chop if they are still fairly large)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Bring the tomato water, broth or water, and bay leaf to a simmer.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. Saute the shallot for a couple of minutes until softened but not browned. Add the rice and saute for a minute or two until it turns slightly translucent.
Add the wine and the thyme and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Slowly add the tomato/broth mixture (don’t add the bay leaf), one ladle at a time, stirring often. When each ladle of liquid is absorbed, add another ladle.
Continue adding the liquid slowly until it’s all absorbed and the rice is soft but still has a bit of give to it. You might need an extra 1/2 cup or so of water if it’s still too firm after the first 4 cups has been absorbed.
When the last of the water is absorbing, add the tomatoes and give it a gentle stir, then remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese.
The finished dish is wonderful. The tomatoes are rich and sweet and the dish just tastes like late summer.