For weight loss, taste and ease, you just can’t beat a late summer tomato. Simply sliced, salted and sprinkled with a bit of balsamic, it’s a super snack or side dish with so few calories it’s not even worth doing the math. (You know I hate the math…)
But here’s a dish that takes summer’s tomato goodness into a whole new realm of savory that is still skinny but extraordinarily delicious, versatile and SO easy: Skinny Tomato Confit…or as we call it in our house, Tomato “Splat.”
Traditionally, a confit is a dish made of a meat, like duck, that’s slow cooked and preserved in it’s own copious fat.
But because grape and cherry tomatoes have less water and a denser flesh than their bigger cousins, and an abundance of seeds that are coated with an almost jelly-like substance, if you roast them on high heat for 2 hours–along with shallots, garlic and herbs–you end up with a thick and gooey dish with such intense flavor and rich texture that you almost forget there’s no fat involved. And the only real work you have to do is open your oven a few times during the cooking to smash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon…splat, splat, splat!
And cooking tomatoes not only intensifies taste and texture, it actually boosts the tomato’s disease fighting super powers…with 50 years of research proving they can be as effective as drugs in reducing your cholesterol!
If you dollop Tomato Splat on toasted whole wheat pita chips that are smeared with a wee bit of goat cheese, you have a fantastic appetizer for any summer garden party or BBQ.
But you can also use them to add richness and flavor to an egg-white or Egg Beaters omelet, grilled fish or chicken paillards.
So next time you’re considering what to do with the bumper crop of tiny tomatoes in your garden or farmers’ market, think Big! And celebrate summer with a Splat!
SKINNY TOMATO CONFIT aka TOMATO SPLAT
1 shallot, chopped
1 T fresh garlic, minced
2 T mixed fresh herbs, chopped (oregano, parsley, basil and rosemary all work.)
1/2 t kosher salt or sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped (This is added at the end, so keep it separate from the other herbs.)
Preheat oven to 400 to 425. (This is a recipe with a lot of wiggle room. If you’re using only grape tomatoes, 400 for 2 hours will do. But if using cherry tomatoes, which are bigger and juicier, you can crank the heat a little higher and/or leave it in the oven a little longer to help it thicken. And since every oven and every batch of tomatoes is different, watch and adjust heat and cooking time accordingly. You want a little char–but not too much. And you want it juicy–but not soupy. Do know that, as it cools, it will thicken a bit… so don’t dry it out too much.)
Throw in your tomatoes, shallots, garlic, 2 T herbs, salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Toss with your hands and place, uncovered, in the middle rack of your hot oven and set timer for 1 hour.
(Be careful here or you’ll “splat” tomato juice all over your oven!)
Cook 30 minutes more, turn off the heat, smash and splat again and add in the 1/4 cup of fresh basil.
Stir well and let sit in the hot oven to further evaporate the juices. (Again, since every batch of tomatoes is different, if it seems so soupy that you don’t think the moisture will evaporate as it sits in the cooling oven, leave the heat on a little longer.)
(For appetizer use, it’s better to make a full day before…the flavors mingle and it gets far more jam-like after chilling.)
RE-USE, RE-PURPOSE, RE-CYCLE
In addition to using Splat as a topping for pita chips, omelets, fish or chicken, you can use it in a high fiber 100 calorie wrap with grilled veggies and some roasted chicken for a great lunch to take to work. Or, simply take a couple of 35 calorie slices of Wasa Bread, top it with the Splat, a sprinkle of feta, chopped olives and fresh basil for a hearty and delicious mid-day snack for about 150 calories. And if you have some left-over grilled veggies, chicken and Splat in the fridge, toss it all with some freshly cooked brown rice pasta and sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese for a skinny but filling meal that the kids will love!
And, as summer ends, make a big batch of Splat and freeze in 1 or 2 cup bags so you can enjoy the taste of summer tomatoes well into fall!