Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes: a Thrill to Cook and Eat

Summer is here and with it comes its greatest gift: summer sweet tomatoes. We love tomatoes in all shapes and sizes. Sliced and slathered with burrata. Caramelized into tomato tarte tatin. But on quick and easy dinner nights, before a late night dip in the pool or after a long trek to a distant baseball or softball field, I like to grab a few of the tiny cherry tomatoes that have begun to appear in my teeny tiny backyard veggie patch, and make this exciting yet easy side dish. Sautéed quickly with some rosemary from the garden in a very hot pan, just enough to caramelize them and these hints of the tomato bounty that will come later this summer explode with flavor.

Caramelized Cherry TomatoesThese pan seared caramelized cherry tomatoes smell and taste like summer. They satisfy every craving of mine, and more.

Sophie Gardener2Most of the plants Sophie and I planted in our garden this summer were provided by Burpee. Gardening with little ones is made extra easy when you don’t start from seed. The Burpee Garden Ready Vegetable Plants were Sophie proof. Every single one got planted successfully, with no decapitations! No small feat. I’ll be featuring different recipes from our garden bounty as the summer turns into fall. And when the harvesting is done in late fall, I’ll be planting some garlic to harvest in the next spring. I go to bed dreaming of a bigger garden and keep getting tempted to add more to my tiny patch. How awesome would it be to have garlic cloves from my garden???

Our teeny tiny garden patch - proof that no yard is too small to plant veggies!
Our teeny tiny garden patch – proof that no yard is too small to plant veggies!

This is the kind of dish that makes you be selfish and grabby. It’s not the kind of dish you want to share. It takes me right back to summers in the South of France. I can almost hear the crickets singing in the thickets of lavender. Almost.

In the winter months, this dish works just as well with boring supermarket tomatoes. After a kiss of heat from the pan, and a little boost of rosemary from the freezer, they tide me over until the heat of summer comes back around. Who knew that this grocery store staple could be transformed so easily into such an exciting side dish?

Cherry TomatoesThe tomatoes are cooked on really high heat, until they just begin to collapse and wrinkle, melding with the flavors of fresh rosemary. Then you hit them with a small amount of sugar to get them to caramelize. Served with a  little of your favorite salt, you have the perfect marriage of sweet and salty.

Then pop these babies in your mouth, enjoying their taste of summer on steroids. They just collapse in your mouth, filling it with flavor. Whether deep in the winter or enjoying the heat of summer, it’s the perfect dinner side.

Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes: a Thrill to Cook and a Thrill to Eat
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: vegetable side dish
Cuisine: French Provencal
Serves: side dish for 3-4 people
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, either red or multicolored, rinsed and dried
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, just the needles
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • your favorite salt in the quantity you like, just as you serve. I like two pinches of kosher salt
  1. Get your pan crazy hot, with smoke curling up the sides. Add a tiny bit of vegetable oil. Throw in your cherry tomatoes and some fresh rosemary. Give your pan some vigorous shakes. All of this will sound very dangerous. The tomatoes will hiss and pop as they transform into something better, the perfect blend of sweet and salty. You'll look like a master chef, but be careful. This is a high splatter dish.
  2. Right when the potatoes start to burst and their skin starts to wrinkle, after 3-4 minutes of high power searing, toss on a little sugar. Not much, a little less than a teaspoon. Just enough to get them caramelized, to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. Then sear and shake them for another minute.
  3. With a slotted spoon, put the tomatoes on a pretty dish and sprinkle them with a little of your favorite salt. I've used some rosemary flakes or just some chunky kosher salt. Truffle salt might be nice too if you like that.
  4. Then pop these babies in your mouth, enjoying this preview of summer, long before its time. It's the perfect antidote to a long night of baseball and homework.


2 Responses to Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes: a Thrill to Cook and Eat

  1. Yep! It is summer and this is easy and quick, and delicious. We do like “easy”! Thanks. Now here in Buffalo area, all we need is “warmer” summer to make us even happier. We are freezing here!

    • We’re freezing in Chicago too. We will get a few hours of warm weather and then it comes crashing back down. It’s gotten so that we all drop whatever we’re doing and rush off to the pool whenever the sun peeks out!

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