Cherry tomato confit is one of my favorite savory treats of summer. It’s the perfect way to use up tomatoes that are just past their prime…a little too squishy for salads but still perfectly delicious and edible. Confit requires some patience, but very little attention, and with a jar of this goodness in your refrigerator you will always be a couple of ingredients away from a delicious meal.
You don’t have to read very much of my blog to figure out that I am a tomato person through-and-through. I have a hard time assembling a dinner without including tomatoes somewhere, even if it’s just tossing a few cherry tomatoes in a salad. And of all the things it’s possible to do with tomatoes, cooking them slowly in olive oil to create this cherry tomato confit is at the top of my list. It lasts up to a month in the refrigerator and can be used in about a million and one different ways!
What is confit?
A confit is a meat or vegetable that is infused with some kind of rich fat. Most foodies are familiar with duck confit, which is a heavenly (but not-so-healthy) dish in which duck meat is cooked in its own rendered fat until it is rich and tender. Tomato confit is made using the same principle, except-obviously-that the fat must come from elsewhere.
As you might guess, the source of fat for tomato confit is usually extra virgin olive oil. Tomatoes and olive oil are magic together in just about any form, but a confit is just a whole ‘nother level of delicious. The tomatoes come out tender and rich, with a fully developed sweet+umami flavor profile.
Ideas for using cherry tomato confit
- Spread grilled bread slices with Macadamia Nut Pesto and top with cherry tomato confit for a delicious and easy summer appetizer.
- Spoon on top of scrambled eggs, grilled chicken or steak, or Sear-Roasted Halibut.
- Use in place of tomatoes on a Margherita pizza.
- Swirl tomato confit into Baked Farrotto with Basil-Walnut Pesto instead of (or in addition to) asparagus.
- Tomatoes: Any small tomatoes will work for this recipe, including cherry, grape, or pear-shaped varieties. Homegrown tomatoes that are slightly past their prime are especially good, and their skins are usually thin enough to be left whole. Hothouse tomatoes work fine too, but they have thicker skins and I generally cut them in half before cooking.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a major source of flavor in tomato confit, so it’s a good time to bring out the good stuff. The California Olive Ranch oil pictured above works great and is affordable. When I can, I like to use a Sicilian olive oil such as this one from Bono Val di Mazara.
- Salt: I use kosher salt. If you use table salt, reduce your initial amount by half and adjust your seasoning carefully at the end.
- Optional ingredients: You can flavor your cherry tomato confit however you’d like! I almost always throw in a couple of cloves of garlic (be sure to discard these after a day or two as confitted garlic can harbor botulism) and a couple of sprigs of herbs. Oregano, basil, and rosemary are classic additions. A pinch of saffron is delicious too!
How to make cherry tomato confit
The basic technique for making tomato confit is simple: just simmer tomatoes very gently in olive oil until they are rich and tender. In the case of tomato confit, this takes about an hour. Thankfully, once you get a confit started, it only requires your attention for a quick stir every 10 minutes or so, making it a cinch to prepare while you are doing something else in the kitchen.
Here are some tips for a perfect cherry tomato confit:
- Use ripe tomatoes. Your cherry, grape, or pear tomatoes can be ripe or slightly past ripe, but any tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe won’t produce the rich tomato-y flavor you are looking for.
- Keep the olive oil at a bare simmer. You want to see bubbles coming up through the oil, but only just. Once you bring the oil up to temperature in the beginning, try to avoid allowing it to simmer vigorously or boil.
- Don’t forget to stir! I set two timers when I’m making tomato confit, especially if I’m distracted by another task in the kitchen. One timer is set for the full cooking time (60 minutes), and another gets set in 10 minute increments. My Amazon Alexa comes in very handy when I need to set multiple timers.
FAQ: Stovetop Cherry Tomato Confit
What can’t you do with it?!? There are so many yummy ways to use tomato confit I hardly know where to begin. My personal favorites are to spread it on grilled bread or spoon it over pesto scrambled eggs and spinach. It’s delicious mixed into beans and a great substitute for sauce on a simple grilled pizza. I toss my tomato confit with pasta, roasted zucchini, and stir it into sauteed greens, or use it as a topping for grilled fish. The sky's the limit!
The oil is also flavorful and delicious and a worthy condiment of its own. Drizzle it on anything you can think of, especially grilled meat, fish, and vegetables. Brush some on pita bread before you throw it on the grill, or on the outside of your grilled cheese sandwich.
Yes, although I typically will confit them in the oven rather than on the stovetop. Roma tomatoes are particularly well suited to confit because of their lower moisture content. Geoffrey Zakarian has an excellent oven tomato confit recipe that has served me well the past few summers.
Yes it can! It's an easy way to save some peak-of-harvest goodness for the winter months. I find freezing works best with tomatoes that have been confitted whole. Just remove any garlic cloves and use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to a freezer-safe container. Pour enough of the oil over them so they are just barely covered and seal the container. Tomato confit will keep for up to six months in your freezer, although they are best before the three month mark.
Storage and reheating
Cherry tomato confit can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a month. Be sure to remove any whole cloves of garlic after a day or two, as garlic confitted in olive oil can harbor botulism. Include the oil the tomatoes were cooked in for maximum flavor and freshness. Tomato confit can also be frozen in an airtight container (in oil) for up to six months.
Reheat your tomatoes gently in oil on a stovetop or (covered) in your microwave at half power.
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!
What’s your favorite thing to do with homegrown cherry tomatoes? How did you like this stovetop cherry tomato confit? Drop me a question, a comment, or a rating and let me know...you’ll make my day! And don’t forget to save and share this recipe by pinning it to Pinterest or saving to Yummly, Whisk, or Flipboard.
Stovetop Cherry Tomato Confit
- 2 cups 300 g ripe cherry tomatoes halved or whole
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil use the good stuff!
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
- 2-3 cloves garlic peeled and trimmed, or
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh basil
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 pinch saffron
- Add the olive oil and tomatoes to a skillet and set over medium heat.
- When tomatoes just start to sizzle a little, immediately turn the heat down to medium low. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and any garlic, herbs or spices you’d like to include.
- Cook over low to medium low heat for 60 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the tomatoes at a bare simmer. You should see bubbles coming up in the olive oil, but barely. Stir gently every 8-10 minutes.
- At the 60 minute mark, taste your tomatoes and make sure they are very tender and the flavor is concentrated and rich. Sometimes larger cherry tomatoes need a little more time.
- Just before your tomatoes are done, taste and adjust the sodium level.
- Remove any garlic or herb sprigs from your confit and cool for 10-15 minutes before using or transferring to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.