Thursday, October 15, 2015

Drying Tomatoes

Harvest time for me is time 
to make sun dried tomatoes!
It's easy, but it's a bit time
I use an oven for mine.
It's best to use plum tomatoes.
There's  more flesh and less juice 
In them.
You can slice, quarter or cut them into small chunks. The bigger they are, the longer they take to dry. It is good to cut them in similar sizes for even drying time.
Set the oven temperature at 200F.
Place the cut or sliced tomatoes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. 
(Tomatoes are acidic and make a mess of your pans if you don't line them.) 

It usually takes about eight hours for this process. You will need to check them from time to time. 
They should be of a consistency similar to dried fruit.
You don't want to dry them to the point where they break when you bend them.

I like to use them in salads, warm pasta dishes, breads, pasta salads, muffins, mac & cheese, on sandwiches, in hummus, in scrambled eggs and just for snacking.

I store mine in a glass or plastic container in the fridge or freezer. They last for a long time if stored properly.
They can also be stored in olive oil in your fridge.
One of my favorite ways to have them is with pasta.
Make your favorite box of pasta and reserve a couple cups of the pasta water. You may not need all of it, but it's good to have it, just in case.
 I toss a couple tablespoons of pine nuts in a skillet with about 3tbs of olive oil,. until they're a golden color. Add two chopped garlic cloves, a couple of tablespoons of butter, some of the dried tomatoes (about 1/4 cup), saute for a minute. 
Add the drained. pasta, salt and pepper to taste, and enough of the pasta water until it's a consistency you like.
The last thing I add is approximately 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
I like to switch it up by adding
one or more of the following...
 sautéed chicken breast
 sautéed mushrooms
Sautéed red bell pepper
Sometimes I will substitute some of the pasta water for heavy cream.  It makes a creamy pasta sauce.  It's delicious either way.

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