These are Roma tomatoes from the Yarra Valley. Roma tomatoes have that plum shape and are prized in the Italian kitchen and certainly indispensable in my mother's kitchen. It's the combination of thin skin, plumb flesh and sweetness that brings a unique richness to all dishes in which they are used.
On my trails I also spotted a rather attractive larger sized cherry tomato that I couldn't resist.
These are Amorosa Tomatoes - a brand new variety for me, they originate from the Netherlands. They are also known for their sweetness in fact, they are about twice as sweet as Roma Tomatoes.
With such glorious looking tomatoes it would be a shame to remove them from the vine and cut them up and the other option of just admiring them, really would just defeat the purpose of buying them.
My solution came in a recent issue of Dish and a recipe by Claire Aldous - a Spanish dish of slow roasted vine tomatoes with Sherry. Be warned, this is a very slow dish and takes at least 3 hours to cook at a very low temperature.
The sherry used is Pedro Ximénez or PX as it seems to be called here these days. It's a rich and luscious dark sherry that tastes like raisins and while sweet, isn't cloying due to the influence of wood during its aging process.
I have made this recipe two ways - while I skinned the Roma tomatoes, I skipped that step when it came to doing the Amorosa tomatoes. It was nerve racking trying to remove the skin from the Roma without accidentally removing the calyx and I think it would have been even harder on the Amorosa. You'll find that as they cook, the skin will spilt anyway, presentation wise they probably aren't as pretty but I think they still look pretty special.
Vine Roma Tomatoes slow-roasted with Sherry
Vine Roma Tomatoes with calyx and stem attached (or any Vine Tomato)
freshly ground sea salt
Prepare the Tomatoes:
Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato.
Bring a small pot of water to the boil and add one tomato. I recommend you only do one at a time as this is fiddly work. Let it sit for 5-10 seconds or until you can see the skin starting to pull away from the flesh. Remove the tomato immediately from the water.
Carefully ease the skin from the flesh - be extra careful around the calyx. Once all the skin has been removed, proceed with the next tomato.
Once all have been skinned, you can move onto the next step.
Cook the Tomatoes:
Place a sheet of baking paper on an oven tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Sit the tomatoes on the paper and drizzle with a little more olive oil, followed by a grinding of sea salt and a sprinkle of caster sugar.
Bake in a 120°C/230°F oven for one hour.
Remove from the oven and spoon a little Pedro Ximénez over each tomato. Return to the oven and cook for another hour.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more Pedro Ximénez. Return and cook for another 30 minutes and then start basting the tomatoes with the juices that have formed on your baking tray. Continue basting ever 15 minutes for another hour.
The end result is a tomato that has intensified in colour and taste but not collapsed - there should still be structural form.
Let them sit on the tray to cool slightly before moving them. Serve them at room temperature with the cooking juices drizzled over.
When repeating this recipe with the Amorosa tomatoes I cooked them as unit rather than individually.
After rinsing them in warm water, I placed them on a baking tray, drizzled over olive oil and sea salt but omitted the caster sugar and proceeded to bake them as stated above.
The photo above shows clearly how the skin will split as it cooks - apart from the aesthetic there's no impact on the taste.
I would serve these in bunches and people can snap off a tomato - the stem becomes quite crisp and dry during the cooking so they are easy to remove from the main stem.
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