These tomatoes are studs. Tomatoes about town. They are bowtied with thyme and lemon verbena, appropriately liquored up with a little vermouth. And they come to you with loose dinner plate morals, hardly capable of sticking to one dish.
They were spread on charcoal-grilled flatbread. They were smashed on a rosemary boule slice over a thin layer of goat cheese. They cozied up nicely with a melty ten-dollar burrata.
They were even thrown impulsively into a workday kale salad designed to swallow up dinner leftovers. I have wanted to toss them with homemade fettuccini and some thick low count shrimp, but they have yet to make the leap to full dinner fork-on-plate contact.
Gone before the pasta water could reach a rolling boil.
So thus far, they have been capable of staying only long enough for antipasti. No matter. Not every tomato dish you meet can be lasagna. Do not expect comfy leftovers. They are drinking in the vermouth. Then sneaking out the door at five am.
They do, however, dress up anything in need of momentary glitz. They go into a hot pan with some extra virgin until they start to bust their guts. Then in goes the vermouth and a spoonful of sugar. When the sugar cooks down, they are ready.
Just take these guys for what they are. A light tomato primer with a hint of caramelized sweetness and just a bit depth, courtesy of a veil of booze. Ready to go on a moment’s notice.
Easy to make, again and again. Perfect for using up the last lingering orbs on a cherry tomato plant.
Low hanging fruit? Sure. But sometimes that is just what you need to close out summer.
Caramelized Vermouth Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Food52
- a few glugs of olive oil
- pint of cherry tomatoes
- kosher salt
- 2 to 4 tbsp dry white vermouth
- 1 to 2 tbsp of brown sugar
- a few sprigs of lemon verbena
- a few sprigs of thyme
Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add a few glugs of olive oil and then the cherry tomatoes. You want enough olive oil to put a nice gloss on your tomatoes, so add more as needed.
Salt the tomatoes and let them cook down, tossing them in the pan every so often, until the tomatoes start to bust open. This will take about 10 minutes, give or take.
Once the tomatoes start to split, take the pan off the heat and add the vermouth, starting with a few tablespoons. Put the pan back on the heat to let the vermouth cook down, add a little more vermouth (you could also use water here) if the tomatoes start to stick or dry up.
Once the majority of the liquid has been cooked off, add in the brown sugar, shaking the pan to distribute it. Let the sugar dissolve and coat the tomatoes, this should only take a few minutes. Again, add more liquid if your tomatoes are looking parched.
Add the lemon verbena and thyme leaves. Taste the tomatoes and add a little more vermouth, sugar, and salt as you see fit. If you decide to add a little more vermouth, you’ll need to let it cook down again but this should only take a few minutes.
From here on out, the tomatoes are ready when you say so. (I like them to have softened and split, while still holding on to their shape.)
Top with a few more herb leaves, if desired.
Makes about one cup
- This is a recipe that functions best in a “splash of this” “dash of that” fashion. Because cherry tomatoes may vary in sweetness or acidity you may find you need slightly more vermouth and a little less sugar or vice versa.
- A number of herbs could work here. Oregano would likely do good things. Food52 suggests marjoram. I tried basil one round, but found it made the tomatoes a tad too sweet for my taste. The dish benefits from an herb with a little more contrast.