Well, okay, they're really oven dried tomatoes.
California sunshine is highly overrated when you live by the water like I do. The coastal fog is lovely for sleeping at night, but most Summer mornings are cool and damp. Wrapping up in a lap blanket with a good book while drying tomatoes in the oven is just the perfect way to spend your morning until the low clouds vaporize around early afternoon. Drying tomatoes this way takes about five hours, low and slow. That's just enough time to finish your book and feel like you've been cooking all day.
Start with vine ripened fresh tomatoes. The Farmer's Markets in this area are full of sweet juicy tomatoes of all kinds. Choose cherry or grape or plum varieties. Of course you have to taste a few to end up with the sweetest of the sweeties.
The drying process is repetitive and tedious (my favorite kind of chore). To relieve the boredom, how about belting out a little song while you work? Like this one.
- 2 pints fresh cherry tomatoes
- about 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Set oven to 200º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice each tomato in half and place on the paper covered cooking sheet cut side up. I created a puddle of olive oil on the sheet and slid each tomato through the oil, top and bottom, before placing on the sheet. A quicker way is to toss the cut tomatoes in olive oil once they are all cut and then place them on the sheet, cut side up. Either way, just be sure each half is well coated in oil. Fill the sheet with the tomatoes and then sprinkle with the seasonings. Place in the oven to dry. They take about five hours. Check them occasionally to see how they are doing. They are done when they are leathery in appearance, and when they are dry but still a little chewy. If you leave them in the oven too long they will become brittle. Let them cool on the sheet. Store them in a jar covered with olive oil. These will keep for a while in the refrigerator.
Add these tasty bits to pasta sauce, salads, soups, sandwiches or in appetizers. I love them with goat cheese on top of sliced crusty bread. They're so good! And swipe up some of that seasoned olive oil on the bottom of that baking sheet with your finger and taste it. Ahhh.... scrape that up and add it to your next salad dressing. It's like Italiafornia gold!
...walking away from my first blog post smiling and singing...you say tomato and I say tomato....
Here's a handy way to slice cherry tomatoes quickly.