April 4, 2010

oven-dried tomatoes

i am strangely fixated on heirloom tomatoes. well, i'm strangely fixated on a lot of things, but even i think it's weird to be obsessed with tomatoes. but i am. in the magazine version of my life, i have lovely al fresco summer dinner parties, with all of my magically-in-one-place friends at my perfectly-quaint-and-preferably-in-italy-country farmhouse, featuring a plethora of mouthwatering grilled foods and accompanied, always, by plates of beautifully ripe sliced home-grown heirloom tomatoes of varied hues, maybe accented with basil, or fresh buffalo mozzarella, or just simply with fresh, green olive oil (pressed from my own olives, of course) and sprinkled with maldon salt.

in the non-magazine version of my life, aka 'reality,' i am more likely to buy a container of tomatoes, put them on the counter, walk by them a million times admiring their lovely appearance, and eventually determine said tomatoes are about 24 hours from becoming decidedly not lovely. solution = oven dried tomatoes.

these lovelies were inspired by the always magazine-life-living martha, and they are almost ridiculously easy to make, and to eat.

oven-dried tomatoes
tomatoes [preferably a mix of the aforementioned heirloom variety], whatever amount you want or have
salt [i used my favorite, you guessed it, maldon], to taste
pepper [preferably freshly ground], to taste
sugar [i used organic cane sugar], about 2 tablespoons or to taste

pre-heat oven to 250 degrees F.

cut tomatoes in half, for small varieties such as grape or cherry, and in slices, for large sizes. place on a baking sheet covered with parchment or silicone baking sheet (such as this one that i use) to prevent sticking.

sprinkle tomatoes evenly with sugar, salt, and pepper. the sugar doesn't make them especially sweet, but seems to help bring out the natural sugars in the tomatoes.
cook in the low oven until the tomato juices are dissipated and the tomatoes nicely shriveled. you can dry them as much as you want, depending on how you are going to use them. mine took about 2 to 3 hours.

ideally, you can use these like you would sun-dried tomatoes, in pastas, dips, sandwiches. you could store them in oil in the fridge, or in the freezer, or in an airtight container on the counter...

or, like me, you can eat them straight-up when they come out of the oven. they are rather like candied tomatoes...so delish, even the non-tomato-eating da gorge loved them.

[all photographs taken by greg ward hart.]


Elizabeth Gallo said...

oooooooooh! i've never made those! i'm going to get me some heirloom tomatoes this week and try it -- maybe to pair with pasta with homemade pesto?

tara. said...

mmmm...that sounds good :). both times i have made them lately i literally just sat and ate them! so, all i can say is, step away from the pan immediately if you want to put them in something besides your mouth.

Braden said...

I have thought about purchasing a dehydrator just to make half dried tomatoes. They are absolutely delicious. If you have not dried your own tomatoes try it one day. Well worth it!!!

tara. said...

hey b, i have thought about the dehydrator thing as well, never bought one though. how do you make your dried tomatoes?

Elizabeth Gallo said...

made these today -- totally delicious. great recipe, t!

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