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Oven-dried tomatoes in oil, with herbs


oven-dried tomatoes fiore 325x225When the farmer's market is bursting with more gorgeous heirloom tomatoes than you can eat, buy plenty. Oven-dry them nearly naked, dressed with little more than extra virgin olive oil and a kiss of sea salt. Store in the fridge or freeze for extended use.

Gorgeous as-is or with herb pesto, folded into hot, light pasta like angel hair.  Slice into ribbons and add, together with chopped fresh herbs and fruity olive oil, to cold picnic pasta.   As an impromptu appetizer - top small crostini with whole dried tomato, garnish with chopped Sicilian olives and fresh herbs (if you have), drizzle with gorgeous extra virgin olive oil.  Amazing!

A delicious bite of Italian summer during those long winter days!

From a 20lb box of Cascade tomatoes, we yielded a dozen 6-oz containers (enough for pasta for four, crostini for 12), and found that each pint of Sungolds (cherry size tomatoes) produced 6-ounces - oven-dried and dressed.  We used C@H 8-oz pro-kitchen Re-usable Storage Containers and Water-Soluble Labels to identify contents, and stack-and-store easily.  The containers are dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe, and the labels dissolve in 30 seconds or less in the sink or dishwasher.

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Pre-heat oven to 250F.   Wash and dry tomatoes and remove stems and leaves.  Cut in half lengthwise, equally, through the stem end and place gently in a bowl.  Drizzle with a small amount of excellent quality extra virgin olive oil (we used Domenica Fiore Olio Novello), toss gently and let sit 10 minutes.  Do not add salt at this stage or the tomatoes will give up too much of their juice, too early.oven-dried tomatoes process 575w Rub a small amount of olive oil onto as many baking trays as you think you will need. Remove tomato halves one at a time from the bowl, shaking off any excess  juice and oil.  Reserve liquid. Place halves skin side down on the oiled trays, packed fairly close together so that the edges don't overcook while the plump middles lose their voluptuousness.   Place in the oven and let magic happen for several hours - as little as four and as many as 10, depending on the size and variety of your tomatoes. Alternate shelves and turn pans every half-hour or so, or as needed.

We did a variety in one go, taking care to place the larger tomato halves (even within a single variety) together on the same tray.  This isn't absolutely neccessary, but it does make it easier to consolidate ready times.   Half-way through the drying process, sprinkle lightly with sea salt. While the tomatoes are drying in the oven, reduce the reserved juice and oil in a small saucepan - just so it gains body and concentrates somewhat.  Set aside and let cool.

When the tomatoes are done to your liking - dried but still soft and definitely not crispy, remove from the oven, loosen from trays and let cool.   Pack into containers (to the brim, but not too tight) with a  few springs or fresh herbs, drizzle with reduced juice, and finish with the best olive oil you can find.  Dried tomatoes in oil will keep for several weeks in the fridge, and for months in the freezer (take care to remove all or most air from containers before freezing).  Tip:  Place labels on the side of your containers (rather than on the lid), so they are more easily identifiable when stacked.

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C@H Kitchen