Cook to Cook: Surprisingly, I've found certain domestic canned tomatoes taste richer than most Italian imports. Yes, the San Marzano tomato is legendary, but it's nearly impossible to find any good-tasting ones in a can in America. Trust me, it's true. I use whole peeled tomatoes (not necessarily plum types) from the organic producer Muir Glen, or Hunt's, Contadina, or Red Pack (take care not to get their tomatoes packed in puree; you want only tomato juice).
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread out the tomatoes in a large shallow pan (a half-sheet pan is ideal) and sprinkle with the other ingredients, turning to coat them with oil. Bake 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours, basting and turning the tomatoes several times. They're done when their color deepens to dark scarlet and they taste mellow and very rich. Don't let them brown, nor allow the garlic to brown, it'll turn bitter.
Transfer the tomatoes and their oil to a glass or china bowl. Let them mellow at room temperature up to 6 hours. The flavors will ripen in this time.
Refrigerate the tomatoes up to 4 days, or freeze up to 3 months. Serve the tomatoes at room temperature, or tossed with hot pasta.
[Disclosure: This recipe was created at a time when The Splendid Table had no business relationship with any canned tomato company. In July 2014, we were thrilled to welcome Muir Glen as an underwriter of our program.]
From The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
"Vegetables are perishable, so we don't have any indication of what they looked like 500 years ago," says James Nienhuis, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.