Much Ado About Tomatoes

Much Ado About Tomatoes
No matter the use, this confit will be a warm and sunny memory of summer's tomato bounty. (Lynda Balslev for Tastefood)

If you have the luxury—I mean, the problem—of too many end-of-season tomatoes, then this confit is for you. Confit is an ancient form of preservation in which perishable food is slowly cooked at a low temperature in fat and then stored in fat. It was (and is) an efficient and safe method to cook and store meat and fish that would otherwise perish. The term "confit" also applies to preserving fruits and vegetables, which may be slowly cooked in oil or a sugar syrup—a method that yields jams, chutneys, and candied fruit.

This end-of-summer confit is a rich, bright, and buttery blend of tomatoes and garlic. The key to the recipe is its simplicity of ingredients and the slow cooking time, which allows the tomatoes to reduce to a juicy sludge and a whole head of garlic to collapse and melt into a buttery paste. Your reward is a savory jam with myriad uses. Smear the confit on crostini, spoon a dollop into a bowl of pasta, use it as a pizza sauce, or dilute it with cream for a silky, rich soup. No matter the use, it will be a warm and sunny memory of summer's tomato bounty.

Tomato and Garlic Confit

Active time: 10 minutes Total time: 1 hour Yield: Makes about 2 cups
  • 1 large garlic head
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds cherry or heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To roast the garlic, slice off the top of the head, about 1/4 inch. Place on a piece of foil, cut side up, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Wrap the foil up over the garlic and crimp to seal. Place in a small baking pan or on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the cloves are very soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the bulb. Remove the garlic and cool to the touch. Squeeze out the garlic cloves onto a work surface and mash to form a paste.

While the garlic roasts, cook the tomatoes: Combine the tomatoes and 1/3 cup oil in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to break down, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Add the herb sprigs and continue to cook over medium-low heat until all the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce thickens, 30 to 40 minutes more, stirring occasionally while breaking up the tomatoes with the wooden spoon.

Stir in the garlic, salt, and pepper and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to meld the flavors. Taste for seasoning.

Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. The confit may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat, and a dog. Balslev studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Copyright 2021 Lynda Balslev. Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication.