Bloody Mary Roasted Tomatoes: A Treat to Awaken Your Tastebuds
By Cyndy Crist
As tomato season gets closer, I’m becoming increasingly impatient for the appearance of the first locally grown delights at the farmers’ market. Our unusually early spring offers the promise of an equally early tomato harvest, but as I write this, that’s still weeks away at best.
In the meantime, I continue to look for ways to turn plum or Roma tomatoes into something tasty, since this variety seems to offer a more acceptable “off season” substitute for locally grown fruits of the larger, juicier types. I found a great new recipe in a Tasting Table post from a few weeks back that I was eager to try and when I did, I got great results.
If you don’t know Tasting Table, you’ll want to check them out. They send out daily posts targeted to national and selected “big city” audiences, as well as several weekly posts that focus on the restaurants and foods of specific cities, new foodie treats and kitchen products, and recipes from chefs and sous chefs, mixologists, the producers of commercially available products, and their own staff.
The recipe that caught my fancy, Bloody Mary Tomatoes, was created by TT editor Rebekah Peppler, with the idea of enhancing the deep, rich flavor of tomatoes with something from her liquor cabinet. These Bloody Mary tomatoes were the result.
On a cool spring day, I assembled my ingredients, got the oven pre-heating, and set about making a batch. I stayed true to the recipe’s ingredients with one small exception explained below, but I varied the process just a bit. While Peppler calls for tossing the tomatoes in the spice/horseradish mixture, I decided instead to spoon and spread it on the cut side of each tomato. I did try tossing them, but the thick, paste-like mixture didn’t really adhere to the smooth tomato skin, and I also thought more of the flavor might get into the tomatoes if it was all applied to the cut surface.
The only ingredient called for that can be challenging to find is fresh horseradish. I found some nice, firm pieces of fresh root on my second grocery store stop and am really glad I was able to use it, since it added such a lovely, bright pungency to the tomatoes. I suspect, though, that a decent, prepared horseradish would be fine as long as it wasn’t horseradish sauce (the kind that mixes horseradish into something creamy). The other ingredients include lemon zest, celery salt, cayenne pepper, sugar, grape seed or canola oil, plum tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. I discovered that I had celery seed but not celery salt, so I used a little more salt than called for and about half the suggested amount of celery seed. That worked just fine.
Cleary, finding the fresh horseradish root was the hardest part of the whole process. The topping mixture was easily assembled and the whole thing was ready for the oven in minutes. I used a fork, rather than my fingers, to do the mixing, which worked jut fine (in this case, I’m not sure what the advantage of a hands-on approach would be). I also used only eight tomatoes and the topping seemed just sufficient for that number, but perhaps I was slightly generous with it. Finally, I was concerned that the amount of roasting time called for seemed excessive, so I watched the tomatoes closely, but the recipe worked well as written. Since test kitchens are generally pretty rigorous in their testing and perfecting of recipes before they’re published, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I guess a little caution never hurts!
We’ve mostly eaten these to date as a kind of side dish or condiment with meals – they were delicious served alongside grilled Porterhouse steaks, for example, and tossed into scrambled eggs. Recently, I decided to try them in two combinations inspired in part by up the ubiquitous Buffalo chicken wings of which my husband is so fond. For one version, I made a kind of thick dip in which I mixed some of the diced tomatoes with our favorite blue cheese yogurt dressing and a little additional crumbled Gorgonzola and served them with stalks of celery. For the other, I mixed diced tomatoes with cream cheese and a little Greek yogurt and spread them on the celery stalks. I preferred the latter, since I felt the tomatoes were complimented by, rather than competing with, the other ingredients. I think my husband will prefer the more robust tomato-blue cheese combo.
However you use them, these tomatoes offer a real flavor punch that’s not for the faint of heart but which definitely wakes up your taste buds. And if you find them a bit too spicy, the amount of cayenne could be reduced. I will definitely be making these again and letting them inspire new ideas for good flavor companions. In fact, the mental sparks are already flying!
Bloody Mary Tomatoes
From The Tasting Table Test Kitchen
1 tablespoon of finely grated fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest,
½ teaspoon celery salt,
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Grape seed or canola oil
10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, use your fingers to rub the horseradish, lemon zest, celery salt and cayenne pepper into the sugar. Add the tomatoes and Worcestershire and toss to coat.
Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil and place the tomatoes, cut-side up, in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are tender and shriveled, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days.