Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Fill a large bowl with ice-cold water and have it standing near to the saucepan.
Put the tomatoes into the saucepan of boiling water. Boil for two minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer straight into the cold water. Leave for a few minutes, then lay the tomatoes out onto a double layer of paper towels to drain.
Cut each tomato open lengthways, leaving the halves attached at one side. Open each one and lay out onto a lined baking tray with the flesh side facing upwards. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, or until starting to shrivel.
Mix together the garlic, dried herbs and sugar and add 15ml salt and 5ml freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle this mixture over one half of each tomato, then fold the tomato closed. Put the sprigs of thyme into two clean, sterilised jars. Layer the tomatoes into the jars so that the thyme sprigs stick to the side of the jar. Mix the lemon juice with the olive oil and pour over the tomatoes to cover. Add more oil if needed. Cut out rounds of wax paper and press them into the top of the bottles to keep the tomatoes submerged. Seal well. Refrigerate for two days before using. The tomatoes will keep in the fridge for a month. Leave to stand at room temperature for an hour before serving. Serve as part of a mezze platter with breads, cheeses and olives or use sliced in pasta sauces or in salads or salsas.
To make Mexican, Moroccan or Indian-flavoured tomatoes, sprinkle the tomatoes with the appropriate rub mixture instead of the herbs and garlic before covering with olive oil in the jar. For spicy tomatoes, add 10 to 15ml dried crushed chillies along with the garlic and leave out the herbs.
Image and text: Ideas
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