By Chef Dez/Special to Black Press Media
If you like tomatoes, chances are you also love the taste of robust sun-dried tomatoes. They can be purchased either packed in oil, vacuum packed, or dehydrated; and 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 flavour because most of the water content has been removed during the drying process. Although this recipe is called Oven “Dried” Tomatoes, they are not really dried; they are still moist but have just shrunk to approximately one-third to one-quarter of their original size and have intense flavour.
We love using these in several 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. Cooking them at a low temperature for a long period of time is the best way to extract moisture, intensify flavours, without burning them in the process. 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 is an approximation and will depend on several factors: the size of the tomatoes, their ripeness, the correct calibration of your oven, etc. Do not let this scare you however, 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 the warm Mediterranean aromas filling your house. Since they are not completely dried however, they do not last indefinitely. Once cooled, store them in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to seven days, or freeze up to nine months. Enjoy!
Oven Dried Tomatoes
10 fresh Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves (not ground)
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves (not ground)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 200°F.
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, pepper, and toss to coat. Gently work a small amount of pulp out of tomato halves while working the flavourings 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 and lightly season each one again with salt and pepper.
Bake for approximately 5 to 6 hours, until the tomatoes have reduced by approximately two-thirds or three-quarters in size but are still moist. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Use in a number of recipes such as pastas, pizzas, bruscetta, grains, etc… anywhere you want incredible tomato flavour.
Makes 20 halves
This recipe is included in Chef Dez’s cookbook The Best In Your Kitchen.
– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to email@example.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4
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