I have a love of two things – Farmer’s Markets and making pickles, preserves, pastes, purees and dried things. I love to turn fresh ingredients that will preserve them in some way. This recipe is perfect for perfect little cherry or grape tomatoes. It oven dries them in a very slow oven to make a great intensely flavoured snack, or ingredient for pasta sauces and salads.
The first time I made these little beauties, my Office Assistant and friend ate the whole batch! They are very more-ish.
You might also like to try Haloumi Pizza with Semi Dried Tomatoes, Tomato Tarte Tartin, and Semi Dried Tomatoes with Pomegranate. You can browse all of our oven dried tomato recipes here. Or have a look at our Tomato Recipes here.
This is quite an easy dish to make, it just takes time. It takes a very slow oven and a few hours. Perhaps it is best done on a Sunday afternoon, or a cold evening. The drying of the tomatoes intensifies their flavour, and you end up with a burst of ruby red goodness in your mouth. Intense.
The time it takes to cook depends on the size of the tomato – obviously bigger tomatoes take longer to cook. It also depends on the stage at which you want to stop the baking.
You have a choice about the level of drying:
- leave them still quite “wet” – a little cooked, not very dry. This takes about 1 – 1.5 hours. The tomatoes must be used within a week of cooking.
- remove them from the oven when half dried. This takes about 2 hours for cherry tomatoes.
- leave them until they are quite dry, like plump dried apricots. This takes 2.5 – 3 hours for cherry tomatoes and longer for larger fruit. These tomatoes will last longer in the fridge.
The recipe uses sumac, a Middle Eastern spice – quite tart and quite yummy, and black-red black in colour. Fresh and tangy, it comes from the berries of a wild bush that grows wild in all Mediterranean areas, especially in Sicily and southern Italy, and parts of the Middle East, especially Iran. It is an essential ingredient in Arabic cooking, being preferred to lemon for sourness and astringency.
You only need a little and it works well with tomatoes. You can read more about sumac here. For this recipe, if you can’t find sumac, then I suggest a small amount of finely grated lemon rind instead. But you can also leave it out – the result is a little different but still very very good.
How to Use Dried Tomatoes
- Throw them in everything – pasta dishes, salads, antipasto, ….
- In pies and tarts.
- Pair them with caramelised onions.
- Eat on their own. Snack on them. Put them in the lunch box.
- Cover the dried ones with oil and keep in the fridge. When the tomatoes are gone, use the tomato flavoured oil in salad dressings.
Before the tomatoes go into the oven
In the oven – about 1 hour into the cooking time
After 2 – 2.5 hours cooking and ready to eat.
Oven Dried Tomatoes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 2 – 4 hours
cherry tomatoes or smaller round or oval tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
garlic, diced really fine
a bay leaf or two
a very small drizzle of really good virgin olive oil
Split the tomatoes lengthwise and place skin side down in a single layer on a baking slide lined with baking paper, or in a low sided dish.
Evenly scatter the sumac, salt, pepper and sugar over the cut surfaces. Adjust the amount of sugar according to the tartness of the tomatoes. In late summer, early autumn, tomatoes are at their best so will need less sugar. Early in the season they will need more.
Add any optional extras, sprinkling over the surface.
Place in a low (100C – 120C) oven for two to four hours until the tomatoes have dried a little and have lightly caramelised. They should look like very plump dried apricots. Cool, cover and refrigerate until needed.