Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Posted by: Linda in MO 07-28-99 12:29 PM

Source: Chyrel's Kitchen, posted by Lori A.
Oven-Dried Tomatoes

The drying process requires just a few basic pieces of equipment: baking sheet, wire rack, aluminum foil, sharp knife, spoon and tongs.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooking rack in foil-lined pan.

Wash 3 pounds of Italian plum tomatoes (about 26 medium), and cut out stem core. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds, leaving just shell. A grapefruit spoon works well. Blot excess moisture from tomatoes with paper towels.

Arrange tomatoes on a rack cut side up. They can be placed closely together since they shrink considerably during baking. Bake tomatoes 3 to 4 hours, checking them occasionally If liquid collects in tomatoes, turn them with tongs to remove it. (If you double recipe, switch oven rack position of two pans halfway through baking.)

Tomatoes are done when they are dry but still pliable, not brittle. Remove each tomato as it is done. Time tomatoes take to cook will vary because their size and moisture content vary.

Store in re-sealable plastic bags 3 to 4 days in refrigerator or up to 8 months in freezer.

Using Sun-Dried Tomatoes:
For chewy texture, use oven-dried tomatoes "as is" with no further preparation. For softer texture, reconstitute them. Oven-dried tomaotes also can be marinated to infuse them with other flavors. Add whole, sliced or chopped oven-dried tomatoes directly to tossed salads or hearty sandwiches for chewy tomato flavor. Stir sliced oven-dried tomatoes into salsa for a double tomato hit.

They can also be added directly to dishes where there will be enough cooking liquid to soften them during cooking process. Try them in beef stews, vegetable soups and chunky pasta sauces.

To reconstitute oven-dried tomatoes, place them in a small bowl and cover with hot water. (For additional flavor, use chicken, vegetable or beef broth). Let stand 5 to 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and tender; drain.

Use reconstituted tomatoes in corn muffins, smooth tomato sauce, meat loaf and hamburgers. Sprinkle them on top of pizza or focaccia Finely chop them and add them to mashed potatoes, along with parsley and chives. Or slice them and toss them with fresh green beans and melted butter flavored with garlic.

To infuse oven-dried tomatoes with other flavors, marinate them in olive oil and assertive herbs such as rosemary or thyme, along with pepper and chilies. Keep them in refrigerator for up to one week.

Add them to pastas and serve them chopped over slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, or use them as a condiment for roast beef.

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