Oven Dried Tomatoes
I made my own oven dried tomatoes this week! Yes, just writing that makes me feel so homely and a little smug. Hehehe - I make my own dried tomatoes....and what do you do with your life? Although...it starts to sound worryingly like I'll turn into one of those sad people that Nigel Slater writes about who start smugly making everything when they don't need to, out of some misplaced sense of superiority. He points out, 'how often have you had homemade pasta or a pizza base that was actually inferior to the quality stuff you can buy nowdays?' And I have to agree; I've tasted some bad homemade pasta and cardboardy homemade pizza bases.
But, these dried tomatoes don't fit into that category, and you don't have to worry about me turning into that kind of person; I'm yet to even make my own bread! (and my day-long effort making stupendously awful Hot Cross Buns taught me well that when there are such good ones to buy, that I shouldn't even bother wasting a whole day attempting something better. Or worse. I think I have yeast issues...)
But....lots of tomatoes in the fridge, and I'm the only person in our household who eats fresh tomatoes. Incredible, isn't it?? How can you not love a fresh tomato?? Oh, they'll eat them as pasta sauce or tomato paste, but not in salads, not grilled, not on a sandwich. Bah! So they wouldn't start rotting I decided to do something I've been considering for a while, and reinforced itself as I read my new Jill Dupleix book - slice them up, throw them in a cool oven for a long time with some seasonings and go to bed. Ok - I didn't go to bed, but that's the option she describes.
What you do is slice up your tomatoes, sprinkle them with some salt, pepper, caster sugar and fresh thyme (or oregano or whatever you like), I added a few spashes of balsamic vinegar to mine, which was a great decision. I set them on a rack with a pan underneath to catch drips, and slipped them into a 100 celsuis oven for about 7 hours. Jill recommended a 60 celsius oven overnight, but I started at lunchtime and needed to go to a rehearsal at 7.30, so I figured 100 degrees would work pretty well.
Well, as it happened, I turned off the oven before I ran out to rehearsal, but didn't have time to take them out, so I let them sit in the cooling oven. Then when I came home I forgot to take them out, so they sat there overnight! I can only say it was an inspired 'decision' as these tomatoes turned out wonderfully. They're just like tomato candy. Essence of tomato! They're lightyears better than the ones you can buy at the deli or supermarket. Depending on how I sliced them some are chewy and toothsome, and some are still a little juicy inside. I put them in a jar with some extra-virgin olive oil and they're quickly disappearing from the fridge. So far I've had them on bread, with lentil and vegetable stew, in salads, on their own as I make a swerving detour to the fridge as I walk through the kitchen.....
Next time I'll cut down on the salt and increase the sugar a little to improve the taste balance - they're a little over-the-top saltwise.
It strikes me that these would be an ideal Christmas gift to make for people who have some time, but not a lot of money to spend on gifts. Or even if you want to give something homemade. I'm already collecting jars. :-)
Now, I have to run off again to another rehearsal - we're doing the Tallis 40 part motet Spem in alium broadcast live-to-air across Australia next Saturday evening - exciting stuff!! Stay tuned for my SHF and IMBB entries tomorrow!