While smokers are known for their ability to turn everyday proteins into barbecue ambrosia, they can also be used to vastly improve your favorite fruits or veggies.
With recipe options like smoked peach and jalapeno chutney, slow-smoked street corn, or these Italian Style Smoked Tomatoes, adding a little smokey flavor to your veggies is a great way to step up the flavor of your food.
How to make Italian Style Smoked Tomatoes.
As we head into the summer months, tomatoes will become plentiful in the garden and in your favorite farm stand or farmers market.
This recipe for Italian Style Smoked Tomatoes can be used for any number of different tomato applications.
Whether you’re planning on grinding the tomatoes when they’re finished creating a rustic smoked tomato sauce, using them as the base for Shrimp and Grits, or an accompaniment for a perfectly grilled Ribeye, these tomatoes are packed with flavor and ready to go!
They will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, or you can, can and process them and keep them for up to 6 months!
Start with great tomatoes.
You want to use ripe but not overripe tomatoes for this recipe. Tomatoes that are too ripe or juicy will break down quickly in the smoker and yield a less than optimal finished product.
You can use whatever tomatoes you have access to, but there are a few varieties that won’t work quite as well in your smoker. Smaller types like cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes aren’t well suited to the smoker. Their higher than average water content means that they will break down further than other tomatoes,s and their smaller size means you can only cook them for a very short time.
Using larger varieties like beefsteak tomatoes, Roma/plum tomatoes, Hanover tomatoes, or larger heirloom varieties means you’ll end up with much better-smoked tomatoes overall.
Preheat your smoker.
You’ll want to keep your smoker at 200°f or slightly warmer, but not above 225°f during the smoking process.
You can smoke your tomatoes at a higher temperature, but you’ll need to reduce the time in the smoker to make sure they retain their structural integrity.
Unlike other smoked items that take a longer time to cook, your smoker should be completely preheated when you put the tomatoes in. Longer proteins like pork butt, or brisket, can go in a less than perfectly preheated smoker without issue, as they will cook for so long, it really doesn’t affect the finished product that much.
If you put your tomatoes in too early, there’s a good chance they will cook unevenly or acquire off-flavors from the incomplete combustion of the smoking wood. For the best tasting smoked tomatoes possible, make sure to let your smoker preheat fully before starting to cook. If you’re not sure if the bbq thermometer on your smoker is accurate, consider investing in a quality meat thermometer to help monitor your pit temp.
Go ahead and use whatever flavor wood you like for this recipe. We recommend lighter woods, like oak or applewood, for veggies and more delicate meats, but you can use whatever wood suits your tastes.
While your smoker is preheating, prep your tomatoes so that once the smoker is up to temp, you’re ready to go!
Prepare your tomatoes.
While your smoker is preheating, you can prepare the tomatoes, so they’ll be ready to go the moment your smoker hits that ideal temperature.
You can half or quarter the tomatoes to prepare them, depending on the size. If possible, you want to maintain a larger size for your smoked tomatoes but also not keep them whole. By cutting the tomato, you increase the surface area and break the skin barrier allowing the smoke to permeate the vegetable fully.
Keep the tomatoes about the size of a golf ball, and they’ll stand up to the heat and smoke long enough to create a delicious smoked tomato flavor.
Once you’ve halved or quartered your tomatoes, depending on size, go ahead and marinate them in the olive oil, salt/pepper/garlic rub, and the fresh basil.
You can leave the tomatoes at room temperature while your smoker preheats, but don’t let them sit too long as they will begin to lose moisture from the salt in the rub!
Smoke the marinated tomatoes.
With the smoker preheated and tomatoes marinated, it’s time to get down to some cooking.
Open the lid to your smoker and carefully arrange the tomatoes on the grill grates. You can line the grates with tin foil if you’re using more petite tomatoes or smoke the tomatoes on a metal sheet tray to keep all the juices; eat if you’re planning to turn which can be gr the tomatoes into a sauce.
Smoke the tomatoes for around 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and taken on a lovely smoky flavor.
Smoking tomatoes is less of a science and more of an art, so make sure to monitor them closely so you can pull them out at just the right time.
Using your smoked tomatoes.
Once you’ve smoked your tomatoes to perfection, you have several different options for enjoying them.
You can dress them with a little balsamic vinegar and use them as an ingredient in a Panzanella salad with some grilled bread and fresh basil, or chop them lightly to create a delicious bruschetta topping.
If you want to turn them into a sauce, you can remove the skins and run them through a blender or food processor to create an incredible smoked tomato Pomodoro sauce perfect for an easy spaghetti dinner or as a base for a bbq sauce.
For preserving smoked tomatoes for later in the year, you can freeze them easily or place the smoked tomato filets into a mason jar and process them in the same fashion you would for freshly canned tomatoes.
Smoked tomatoes offer a ton of versatility throughout your kitchen and are an incredible way to utilize the bounty of a garden or farmers’ market haul. Just remember to monitor them closely and enjoy them within 5 days if you are keeping them refrigerated!
Italian Style Smoked Tomatoes
- Sharp serrated knife
- Aluminum pan or similar
- Wood pellets for pellet smoker I used traeger signature blend
- 3 large tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp salt pepper garlic rub or a Combination Of ground pepper, salt, and garlic powder will work, too.
- 1 tsp dried basil
- Preheat the smoker to 200 degrees.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the whole tomatoes into quarters.
- Place in an aluminum pan and drizzle with olive oil.
- Add in the SPG Rub.
- Add in the basil.
- Mix and toss until the tomatoes are covered and the ingredients are mixed well.
- Place the pan into the smoker and let smoke for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until desired tenderness.
- Pull off of the smoker and enjoy as desired.