Tuscan Flavor in Winter: Roasted Canned Tomatoes

A ToneMan Recommendation

Just because it’s winter (or early spring) doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the the best flavor tomatoes have to offer!  Today’s recipe comes more or less right out of a cookbook.  Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts a food show on Public Radio called “The Splendid Table” (@SplendidTable and http://splendidtable.publicradio.org ).  If you have ever heard her you know she has the foodie’s dream job.  People call in with questions like “My neighbor just gave me a bunch of tomatillos from his garden and I don’t know what to do with them” to which Lynne will passionately run through the various sauces and chilis, and ways to use tomatillos.

My friend Charlotte Albers (http://paintboxgarden.com) turned me on to a book by Kasper called The Italian Country Table.  This book explains how people like the Italians of Tuscany can take the simplest of ingredients and turn them into a near religious experience.  I love this book!

One recipe it has is for Roasted Canned Tomatoes.  It basically mixes whole canned tomatoes with ingredients like fresh herbs, garlic, etc, and roasts them to concentrate the flavor.  Once roasted, they can be used as an ingredient in pasta, on pizza, with beans or even salads.

Below is the method I used, and in the following weeks I will share numerous recipes that call for these as an ingredient I will link back to this recipe each time I use it as an ingredient.  So the next time you are grocery shopping, stock up on some 28 oz cans of whole tomatoess.  They become small when roasted, so whatever you buy, you’ll wish you made more!  They are a great thing to make on a weekend afternoon because they will make your house smell wonderful and can then be used for easy meals during the week.  So try this one, and add it to your repertoire.

Start with two or three cans of whole tomatoes and fish them out with a fork, reserving the tomato juice in the can (See postscript below).  Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and put in a large bowl.

To this bowl add the following: 

  • 2 or 3 long drizzles of good quality olive oil
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves
  • One medium sweet onion (red, white, etc) halved and sliced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Italian style seasoning (could be just rosemary, or dried mixture)
  • Salt and Pepper

Mix these all well in a bowl

The foundation of so many good meals!

 These will roast in a low temperature oven, 300°.  Pour the contents of the bowl out onto a sheet pan (no parchment paper this time, you want the pan to facilitate browning).

They will roast for as long as 2 hours and during that time you will turn them with a spatula every now and then, like every 30 – 40 minutes.

As they roast they will turn deep dark red, and the onions and garlic will roast to a deep brown. (Pay attention not to let any of it turn black).

The finished product

After they come out of the oven, remove the contents and any remaining oil to a bowl and let them rest at room temperature for a couple more hours.  This will allow further flavor development.

They will keep for easily a week in the refrigerator and could even be frozen.  So consider this, if you make a really large batch and break it into small coantainers, you could then freeze them and always have some on hand.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the many different uses for these tomatoes, but once you taste them, you will most likely figure this out for yourself.  Think pasta, bruschetta, sandwiches…

Postscript:  This final step is not for everyone, but as I made these on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I could not let what amounted to two half-cans of tomato juice go to waste.


This could not go to waste...


I decided it was the perfect time for a Bloody Mary.  This juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and a healthy shot of Grey Goose!  My only challenge now was to hold off the nap until the tomatoes came out of the oven!

Update:  Since publishing this post, I have also published a recipe which uses this recipe as an ingredient.  See White Beans Provençal




  1. Hi Tony – thanks so much for letting me know about your blog! Reading it makes me feel like we’re back in Arlington.

    For what it’s worth, we do something like this every summer when the tomatoes are ripe – we snatch up the juliets (baby romas) from the farmers market, split them in half, brush with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper, and roast at 225 for several hours until they are quite shriveled. It’s tempting not to eat them like candy when they come out of the oven, but if we can hold off, we let them cool on the cookie sheets, and then freeze them and decant into freezer containers. We try to make enough to last for pizzas and salads all through the winter. You can also do it with full sized romas – that’s what the original recipe – in an old Gourmet magazine – called for.

    Take care – and best to you and your family.

  2. Two years ago I started a cook’s collaborative with two friends – each year we select a cookbook, then rotate hosting a dinner for 6-8 made entirely from the book. This way we have a chance to really trial the recipes and learn the cuisine. Two of the more memorable recipes I made from Kasper’s book were: the Tuscan white bean dip on bruschetta, served with fresh chopped tomatoes and basil (easy), and a stunning panna cotta topped with sauced rasberries.

    I’ve got all the Splendid Table podcasts on my iPod. It helps me get through the long winter in the frozen north. Lynn is indeed funny and so interesting… Our pick for 2011-12 is Madhur Jaffrey’s new cookbook.

    You’ll be glad to know I started seeds yesterday for San Marzano paste tomatoes in the greenhouse, along with a large number of Genovese basil so I can triple my production of frozen pesto.

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