17 August 2011

Recipe: Grape Tomato Confit

My two day quasi-internship in a restaurant netted me two things: the knowledge of what a professional kitchen was like, and a basic tomato confit recipe.

I generally see confit used to refer to meat cooked and stored in its own fat. My personal introduction to the confit family was with duck, which I’m guessing is the most prevalent today since duck fat is the Louis Vuitton of animal fats. However, the word itself is derived from the Old French for “preserved fruit.” Sugarplums and whatnot.

Of course, no variety of tomato I’m familiar with grows marbled with animal fat (put your tomacco down and get on that, food scientists!), so tomato confit is slow roasted with olive oil and herbs. The restaurant’s recipe was fired at me while I was halving grape tomatoes, so it’s possible I’m leaving something out, but I’ve found this gets the job done.

  • 2 lbs. grape (or cherry) tomatoes 
  • 15 basil leaves (a.k.a. a handful) 
  • 5 sprigs of thyme 
  • 8 or so cloves of garlic 
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil 
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt 
*The garlic and herb measurements here are all "-ish" measurements. And the ingredients I may or may not hazily remember: onion powder and bay leaves.

  • Large mixing bowl 
  • Rimmed baking sheet 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Parchment Paper 

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line your rimmed baking sheet with foil, then line that with parchment paper. (I initially wondered why all the lining and once thought, screw it. Well, tomatoes are sneakily acidic and my pan can now testify to this fact.)

Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Roughly shred the basil by hand. Combine the herbs, garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl and toss together. Set aside.

Halve the tomatoes and toss in with the olive oil and herbs. Add salt and toss again to mix. Pour the contents of the bowl into the baking sheet and spread evenly. 


Bake for an hour at 350. Then lower the heat to 250 and continue to bake for another 2-2.5 hours. The skin will bubble up and crisp, and eventually the tomatoes will turn a deep red color. Where to stop is really a matter of preference.

Take it out early and the tomatoes will have fleshy meat (the skins will slide off). Keep going and it’ll reach a flexible yet juicy marmalade-like stage. After that it begins to resemble a chewy sun-dried tomato. After that is a crispy-sun dried tomato stage. Last and most definitely least is the burnt and inedible stage.
Confit textures from fleshy to sun-dried tomato-esque. Not pictured: burnt.
If your oven is like mine, the entire batch won’t cook evenly. I stop when most of the tomatoes are in that middle range, which results in confit that’s chunky yet spreadable. If you keep going, I suggest checking in every 10-15 minutes, because it’ll cook quickly at this point.
Before and after.
Let cool. Remove the basil and thyme (they’ll be charred pretty good). Unless you’ve stopped at the fleshy stage, you should be able to squeeze the entire batch of tomatoes and some of the garlic into a 12 oz. canning jar. If you have a spare fresh basil leaf, throw that in there, too. Add extra olive oil to cover and store in the refrigerator. I’ve kept it safely for a couple of months before finishing the batch.


It’s versatile stuff. I’ve reheated it and topped it on toasted bagels, made omelets with it, and tossed it with ravioli and capellini. I’m thinking it’d work on a salad or as a sandwich spread. Maybe with brie and crackers. Really, what can’t you do with a roasted tomato?

To answer my own question: I topped it on vanilla ice cream and the temperature made it gummy, so don’t do that. But, if you pureed and incorporated it into ice cream during the creaming phase...

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