Balsamic roasted tomatoes are easy to make and so full of meaty umami flavor for vegetarian and vegan dishes. All you need are tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Oh, and 5 minutes to prep them before sliding these beauties into the oven for a slow roast.
If you want to amp up the umami flavor of vegetarian dishes, look no further than these Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes.
One of the frequent complaints aimed at vegetarian dishes is that they're bland. And this complaint can be particularly loud from the meat eaters at the table. The truth is, meat has a deep savory flavor that our taste buds respond to with great vigor, and they don't always get the same satisfaction from plants.
But there are several plant-based ways to get that “meaty-ness” on the plate (also known as umami, the 5th taste). Two of them are tomatoes (particularly roasted or sun-dried) and balsamic vinegar. A third way is by roasting vegetables.
And when you combine all three?
You have a flavor bomb of savory umami deliciousness you can add to a lot of vegetarian and vegan dishes that will have the meat eaters asking for seconds. Seriously.
And it's a great way to bring up the flavor of sad, anemic tomatoes we see in the stores all winter.
You Only Need 5 Ingredients (Including Salt, Pepper and Oil!)
Balsamic roasted tomatoes need only 5 ingredients, and best of all, they're probably ingredients you always have on hand.
- My favorites to roast like this are vine-ripened, grape and cherry tomatoes, and any medium-sized tomato. Firm somewhat anemic tomatoes I see in the winter do particularly well.
- Large juicy plump heirlooms, like the ones we get at the markets in July and August, don't do as well because they're so juicy. Plus it's a shame not to use those beauties on toast with slices of avocado with a drizzle of olive oil. Or in a tomato salad.
- Use less salt if you use table salt. Because of the texture of kosher salt, it packs less compactly in a measuring spoon than table salt. Therefore a teaspoon of kosher salt is less salty than a teaspoon of table salt.
- Smoked salts are another way to rock umami flavors and can be substituted.
Freshly ground pepper
- Regular pre-ground pepper is perfectly fine here.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- There's no need to use an expensive brand of special olive oil since it will be heated for a long time.
- These Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes are all about the balsamic vinegar. I use a middle of the road priced Neapolitan Herb Aged Dark Balsamic Vinegar I purchase at a local shop in Truckee (California), and have also used their Fig Balsamic Vinegar with huge success. They ship, if you're not local to Lake Tahoe area. Their white balsamic vinegars and olive oils are fabulous too!
This is a basic recipe you can add onto, according to your own tastes. Here are some ideas:
Swap out kosher salt for smoked salt.
Chop off the top of a head of garlic to expose cut tops of the cloves. Rub the head with olive oil, loosely wrap it in foil, and add to the tray. After roasting is complete, squeeze the cloves from their shells, and add to the tomatoes to the jar.
Feel free to experiment with different oils and balsamic vinegars.
Roast some red peppers alongside the tomatoes and pack together for pepperonata.
If you like to kick up your dishes with heat, add a pinch of dried red peppers.
How to Store Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes
I pack these luscious flavor bombs in a jar with a little fresh oregano or thyme and a dollop of additional olive oil, and put them in the refrigerator until I need them. When transferring them to the jar, though, be sure to pour all the juices, olive oil and roasted balsamic vinegar into the jar too.
They'll keep for a month, easily, and probably longer. But I find I use them up in a couple weeks since there's so many ways to use them.
I roast my tomatoes for a long time at a low heat. It's certainly possible to roast them for a shorter time at a higher heat, for example at 400˚F, but the tomatoes don't thicken up in the same way for the meatiness I prefer.
The roasting time will vary, according to the size and juiciness of the tomatoes. I roast mine until they look like the photo: puckered and browned around the edges, the cavities still moist with a small amount of liquid in them. For medium-sized winter tomatoes, this takes me 90 minutes. For cherry or grape tomatoes, this takes closer to 30 – 40 minutes.
I tend to add my herbs when I pack the tomatoes into a jar, but you can also roast them with the tomatoes. If you choose this, be aware that if they burn, they can become bitter. Therefore, it's best to roast at the lower temperature recommended in this recipe. And try to keep the herbs in the oil or tomatoes to better infuse the flavors.
Ways to Use Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes
These roasted tomatoes can be used in so many dishes from risotto, pasta and grains dishes to pizza, curries and soup. Here are some examples:
If you want to move to a more vegetarian diet, but not sure the best steps to take, join the Monthly Vegetarian Meals Challenge. Each month I'll post some tips – great plant protein sources, must-haves for the vegetarian pantry, ways to build flavor, and more. Additionally, we tackle 1 – 3 seasonal recipes tied to the theme that month. Subscribe here >> to Monthly Vegetarian Meals Challenge.