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Look What I Made: Oven Dried Tomatoes

About halfway there… (photos by Travis Awalt)

Well, the election is over. Finally. I, for one, am relieved. Now we all can get back to concentrating on what’s really important: eating enough food so that we don’t starve* and watching cat videos on the internet.

I think I can help with that – the food part, anyway.

Oven dried (or sun dried) tomatoes, like pickles, are a food accessory. They’re more than a garnish, and they’re great to have around because you can incorporate them into so many things (sauces, salads, pasta, hummus, cream cheese, etc). While there are a few decent brands of sun dried tomatoes you can buy at the grocery store, the homemade variety, by comparison, is on flavor steroids, taking both the tartness and sweetness to an obscenely delicious level. And that’s just with tomatoes I picked up at Fiesta; I can only imagine how good homegrown would be.

Anyway, enjoy the recipe and – while you can – the break from the rhetoric, because I think the 2016 election cycle starts up in a couple of months…

Oven dried tomatoes

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:
7 or 8 Roma tomatoes
olive oil, divided use
coarse salt
garlic cloves, peeled

Instructions:
1. Split the tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Toss the pieces with about 1 tbsp olive oil and a few generous pinches of salt.
2. Set your oven as low as it will go.** Mine goes down to “warm,” whatever the hell that means. (I’m guessing about 175.) Lay your tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place in the oven for four hours.
3. After four hours, pull the tomatoes from the oven. They’ll be wilted, but by no means dry. Look for a seam along the edge where the skin has separated from the flesh. Carefully peel back from there; the skin should come away quite easily.

Peeling back the skins

4. Back in the oven for four more hours. Check every hour, though, as oven temperatures vary.
5. After four hours, pull the tomatoes out of the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature. Store in a sterile jar with a few cloves of garlic packed in olive oil.

Pesto mac with oven dried tomatoes (and bacon!)

* Water is important to keep from dying, too, but according to Nancy, “Water ain’t sexy, kid!”
** Lots of recipes for oven dried tomatoes call for 1-3 hours in a 200 degree oven, but I set mine even lower, because the point here is to dry them out, not cook them.