Make ‘sun dried’ tomatoes in the oven | Chef Dez
If you like tomatoes, chances are you also love the taste of sun-dried tomatoes.
These robust tomatoes can be purchased either packed in oil, vacuum packed, or dehydrated.
When buying them from the store, I like the ones packed in oil the best. The ones made from scratch, however, are even tastier.
Whatever the process, dried tomatoes are more concentrated in flavor because most of the water content has been removed during the drying process.
A recipe for oven dried tomatoes is included in my new book "The Best In Your Kitchen.”
Although the recipe is called “oven dried,” the tomatoes are not really dried. They are still moist but have just shrunk to about one-third to one-quarter of their original size.
They also have really intense flavor. We love using these in a number of recipes, such as pasta, pizza, sandwiches, or even just eating them on their own.
The downside of this recipe is the length of time they need to be in the oven.
The best way to extract moisture and intensify flavors – without burning them in the process – is to cook them at a low temperature for a long period of time.
Close attention is needed in the latter part of the cooking process to ensure that they do not get overcooked, dried out and/or burnt.
The cooking time mentioned in the recipe is an approximation. It will depend on a number of factors: the size of the tomatoes, the ripeness of the tomatoes, the correct calibration of your oven, etc.
Do not let this scare you – just pay attention, that's all.
This is a great recipe to make on a day when you are going to be home anyway and want warm Mediterranean aromas to fill your house.
Since these tomatoes are not completely dried, however, they do not last indefinitely.
Oven Dried Tomatoes
10 fresh Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dried basil leaves (not ground)
1 tbsp dried oregano leaves (not ground)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove and discard any green tops of the tomatoes. Slice in half from top to bottom (lengthwise), and place them in a mixing bowl.
Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Gently work a small amount of pulp out of tomato halves, while working the flavorings into the tomato cavities.
Arrange the tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Spoon the remaining liquid from the bowl over the tomatoes. Lightly season each one again with salt and pepper.
Bake for 5-6 hours, until the tomatoes have reduced by about two-thirds or three-quarters in size but are still moist. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Add them to pastas, pizzas, bruscetta, grains, etc. – anywhere you want incredible tomato flavor.
Makes 20 halves. Once cooled, store them in an airtight container and keep them refrigerated for up to seven days.
Gordon Desormeaux aka Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary travel host and cookbook author. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.