My older daughter just finished her year long internship in DC and has moved to Madison Wisconsin to start graduate school. Her new apartment is in a converted 19th century house, and the kitchen is better in every way than the little closet kitchen she had in DC. She’s excited and I’m excited for her. The very first day she and her boyfriend arrived they started cooking.
Their enthusiasm is infectious, and when she told me about these oven-dried tomatoes, I jumped on board. We had batches in the oven simultaneously and compared notes on Skype. Not quite the same as having her home, but fun all the same.
This project is simple, but a good one for a day when you’ll be around for a while, since the drying process takes several hours in a low oven. After the tomatoes are dried, they can be jarred with olive oil and herbs, or frozen in baggies.
This is just another way to make the most of summer’s bounty, and tomatoes are so cheap right now, they’re practically giving them away! I used multicolored cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market. The small tomatoes dry easily, and they are super sweet, almost like candy, after they come out of the oven.
I halved the tomatoes and gave them a little squeeze over a bowl to release some of the excess juices and pulp. They get a quick drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then get laid out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. I put my tomatoes cut side down, but next time I’ll set them cut side up, they will dry better that way. By the way, the parchment paper is important—don’t skip it—the long cooking process caramelizes the sugars in the tomatoes and leaves behind a mess.
After about 4 hours in the 200 degree oven, they come out all shriveled and ugly. Now taste one. They’re chewy, super sweet, and amazing.
At this point you can pack them into a clean jar with some sprigs of rosemary, and then fill the jar with olive oil to use later. You can stash them in a baggie in the refrigerator if you just want to snack on them, or you can freeze them. Just freeze them right on the tray, and then, when they are frozen, you can pop them into zip lock freezer bags. They’ll keep forever.
Now you can use them like you would any sun-dried tomato: on salads, in pasta, pizza, or as part of a cheese plate.