Tomato confit intensifies already sweet summer tomatoes, rewarding you with colorful flavor bombs that elevate pasta, fish and charcuterie boards.
Throughout July and August, my local Whole Foods Market puts out pints of local tiny, multi-colored cherry tomatoes. They come in red, yellow and and an heirloom purple variety and they all are miniature flavor bombs of sweetness. I load up on them while I can. Although you can’t go wrong with adding fresh, ripe tomatoes to salads, this Tomato Confit recipe cooks the tomatoes slowly, intensifying their flavor. Garlic, basil, sea salt and good quality extra virgin olive oil round out the robust flavors.
How to use tomato confit
Tomato confit is wonderful on a charcuterie board. It’s perfect tossed with hot pasta. Top roasted salmon or seared scallops with the tomatoes and their oil and you’ll thank me later. Top a store-bought crostini with a confit tomato and surprise your unexpected guests. Instantly improve your grain bowls and pizzas with the addition of these sweet little morsels. Take your Italian antipasto spread to the next level with a bowl of these confit tomatoes, crusty bread and platters of Peach Burrata Salad and Bresaola Salad with Arugula and Parmesan. Use the flavored oil to make a kick-ass vinaigrette for salad. The possibilities are endless.
A version of this recipe featured on a recent NPR “Here and Now” segment with Kathy Guest. The segment focused on what to do with an abundance of fresh summer tomatoes. The recipes are creative and wonderful. Give it a listen.
So few ingredients and such a big payoff. Use the sweetest, ripest tomatoes that you can find. Although I typically make this recipe in the summer, grocery stores sell good quality cherry tomatoes year round now. Why not bring a bit of summer to a cold and dreary winter day as well?
- fresh basil
- cherry tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
See recipe card for quantities.
I once believed that “confit” meant “meat cooked in its own fat,” like one of my favorite foods in the world: duck confit. That dish is literally duck cooked in duck fat. But confit isn’t limited to poultry or other meats. Chefs cook vegetables and even fruits using the confit method. Simply put, confit is a food cooked at low temperature in a fat (or in the case of fruit, in a sugar syrup.) See FAQs below for more information on the cooking method and it’s history.
Preheat the oven to 300ºF (275ºF for convection). Strip the basil leaves from their stems. Stack the leaves on top of each other and roll into a basil “cigar.” With a sharp knife, cut across the cross-section of the cigar, creating basil “ribbons.”
Thinly slice the garlic cloves.
Rinse and drain the cherry tomatoes in a colander. Place the tomatoes in a large shallow baking dish. Add the olive oil, basil ribbons, and garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and toss to mix all ingredients.
Roast the tomatoes in the center of your oven for about 50 minutes. When done, the tomatoes will look slightly shriveled and the oil will be gently bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Herbs - while basil is wonderful, substitute or add other herbs for different flavor profiles. Fresh thyme or oregano both work beautifully. Use dried in a pinch. I source my dried herbs from the amazing Burlap and Barrel sustainable spice company.
- Spicy - add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes or other chilis that you like before baking. Again Burlap and Barrel's chilis are unsurpassed. Try their Red Jalapeño chili. Or for a milder spice, go with Silk Chili.
- Olives - cured black or green olives from Greece or Italy are a natural with tomato confit. Add a ½ cup of your favorite olives to the confit after baking.
Equipment for Tomato Confit
No special equipment is required for this recipe, but baking and serving tomato confit in a beautiful piece of shallow crockery is visually stunning. I bake and serve mine in my cherry red Le Creuset 1.7 Quart Stoneware Heritage Oval Au Gratin, 1.7 qt. Speaking of summer, the Le Creuset is also a great baking dish for berry and stone fruit crisps.
Store tomato confit in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The tomatoes easily last a week or two. But with its delicious flavor and so many ways to enjoy it, long term storage is not likely an issue!
Top tip for Tomato Confit
If your cherry tomatoes are not super sweet, you can cheat a little and achieve the same wonderful taste by sprinkling in a tablespoon of sugar before tossing and baking.
- 1 14 ¼ in Le Creuset Oval Gratin optional
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1½ lbs multi-colored ripe cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF (275ºF for convection). Strip the basil leaves from their stems. Stack the leaves on top of each other and roll into a basil “cigar.” With a sharp knife, cut across the cross-section of the cigar, creating basil “ribbons.”
- Thinly slice the garlic cloves.
- Rinse and drain the cherry tomatoes in a colander. Place the tomatoes in a large shallow baking dish. Add the olive oil, basil ribbons, and garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and toss to mix all ingredients.
- Roast the tomatoes in the center of your oven for about 50 minutes. When done, the tomatoes will look slightly shriveled and the oil will be gently bubbling. Remove from the oven, let cool and either use right away or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Confit comes from the French word “confire,” which means “to preserve.” Historically, meats were salted and then cooked in fat at a low temperature. Meats preserved by this method could last months or even years when properly sealed and stored in a cool, dark cellar. In modern cooking, confit can refer to meats, vegetables or fruits cooked in a liquid that inhibits bacterial growth. For fruits, this liquid is a sugar syrup. For meats and vegetables, it is an animal or vegetable fat. Confit differs from fried foods in that the temperature of the oil is typically around 200ºF, whereas frying takes place at a temperature between 350º and 450ºF. Today, chefs make confit for the delicious taste of it, not so much to preserve the food.
Tomato confit is a condiment prepared by slow-cooking tomatoes in olive oil at low heat. The olive oil can be flavored with aromatics such as garlic, herbs and spices. During their cook time, the tomatoes soften and their flavor intensifies. The oil that they are cooked in becomes deliciously infused with both the juices of the tomatoes as well as any aromatics.
With the tomatoes submerged in bacteria-inhibiting olive oil, tomato confit easily lasts a week or two in a sealed container in the refrigerator. But with its delicious flavor and so many ways to enjoy it, you likely won’t need to worry about it’s expiration date!