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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Lowe's Mid-Atlantic regional gardening expert Julie Martens shares her recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes.

Roma tomatoes on vine
Roma tomatoes ready to roast.

The best part of growing tomatoes is eating them! That's my motto as I tend my Mid-Atlantic kitchen garden. I can't wait for that first sun-kissed fruit to ripen.

Although I feast on fresh-sliced heirloom tomatoes, I preserve oblong, blocky roma tomatoes. These meaty fruits occupy significant space in my kitchen garden because they're the tomatoes I preserve, cook into ketchup, and whip into marinara sauce. My favorite way to preserve romas is slow-roasting.

The process is long--hours and hours--but the results are worth it. Slow roasting distills classic tomato flavor into a sweet, caramelized nectar that transforms every dish it graces. Once you've had slow-roasted tomatoes, you won't go back.

My recipe uses olive oil, salt, pepper and two other homegrown ingredients from my kitchen garden: garlic and fennel seed. I follow a process that takes about a day from start to finish. Some folks roast overnight, but I dislike running the oven unattended.

Slow-roasted tomatoes.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 225°F.

Slice a roma tomato in half. Place it cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and fennel seed. Add whole peeled cloves of garlic.

Roast tomatoes for about 7 hours until edges are wrinkled and garlic cloves are brown.

Homemade pizza with slow-roasted tomatoes.

To store for immediate use (within one week): Heap tomatoes and garlic in a jar and cover with olive oil. Seal tightly and refrigerate.

To save for winter feasting: Slip a few slow-roasted tomatoes and garlic cloves into snack-size food storage bags. Place in 1-gallon bag and freeze. Snack-size bags provide a perfect portion size for chopping into fresh marinara sauce, omelets or your favorite pasta creation.

I love to chop slow-roasted tomatoes onto homemade pizza.

Bread stuffed with slow-roasted tomatoes.

I also use them to stuff whole-wheat olive-oil bread, adding more garlic and parmesan cheese.

My kitchen garden keeps my pantry well-stocked and helps me serve flavorful meals. What is your favorite garden-inspired recipe?