Would you like to know how you, too, can eat 13 plum tomatoes in one sitting, aided only by a second dining companion who, let's be honest here, never actually gets his fair share because you are far too busy eating the tomatoes all by your greedy, greedy self? (Try to be gracious, really, and let the poor man stab a few onto his fork. He's had a long day.)
You take the plum tomatoes, you halve them, you sprinkle them with a wee bit of salt and ground coriander and then you let them go in the oven until they're shriveled and wrinkly and fragrant, and oozing oil and juices. If you're patient and easily distracted by television or books or good conversation, then do these the way Molly tells you to: in a low oven for close to 6 hours.
If you're anything like me, impatient, and positively bewitched by a roasting tomato (oh, I'm hopeless - by any tomato at all, really), make the oven hotter and then chain yourself to a sturdy piece of furniture for two hours, because otherwise you'll be absolutely compelled to continuously wrenching open the oven door in despair because it's not time to take the tomatoes out yet, but you're starving and they're gorgeous and that smell! God help me, I can't wait any longer.
The tomatoes on the edge of the pan get sort of barely leathery and the ends are faintly crisped and charred. The tomato taste is so concentrated that it almost turns into something else. These are the ones to be lifted off the pan with quick fingers, they're hothothot, and popped into your mouth while the table's being set. The tomatoes in the middle of the pan are thicker and filled with a delectable slurry of juice and oil. These are the ones to pile on a piece of good country bread along with a judicious drizzle of oil.
Of course, you could also plop them on your plate alongside whatever you're having for dinner or chop them up and toss them with freshly cooked pasta or stick them in a sandwich, even. With good manners and restraint, you could even store these in the fridge for a while. But I'll bet that most of them just get speared by your fork and popped in your mouth right then and there, hot out of the oven, and before anyone else gets wise and comes along to share in the bounty.
They taste best this way, I think.
Ripe tomatoes, preferably Roma
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you're feeling impatient, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.)
2. Wash the tomatoes, cut off the stem end, and halve them lengthwise. Pour a bit of olive oil into a small bowl, dip a pastry brush into it, and brush the tomato halves lightly with oil. Place them, skin side down, on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle them with sea salt and ground coriander—about a pinch of each for every four to six tomato halves.
3. Bake the tomatoes until they shrink to about 1/3 of their original size but are still soft and juicy, 4 to 6 hours (at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, these are ready after 2 hours). Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature. Place them in an airtight container, and store them in the refrigerator.