I was at the Farmer’s Market again this week, doing a mid-month shop to see what I could dry, make into jam, preserves or somehow put into bottles. I love the market a lot. It is quite new in Adelaide – we are such a slow town – and of course there is only one and that is why we can refer to it as the Farmer’s Market. It is very popular, and characterised by long queues at the more popular stalls. I found some home grown cherry tomatoes for next to nothing, so bought a smallish bag. Yum, some oven roasted tomatoes for me, I thought.The next morning, into the oven they went. Out of the oven they came. Into the mouth of my Office Assistant they went. Into the mouth of my friend they went. A couple here, a couple there. Next I looked, there was hardly enough left for a small bowl of pasta. Sigh.
Drying or Roasting Tomatoes in the Oven
This is quite an easy dish to bake. It just takes time – a very slow oven and a few hours to spare. It is best done on a Sunday afternoon, or a cold evening. The results are very yummy. 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.
Sometimes I leave them still quite “wet” – a little cooked, not very dry. This takes about 1 – 1.5 hours.
Sometimes I like them half dried. This takes about 2 hours for cherry tomatoes.
And sometimes I like them quite dry, like plump dried apricots. This takes 2.5 – 3 hours for cherry tomatoes and longer for larger fruit.
Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice – quite tart and quite yummy. It is 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 is fabulous with tomatoes and avocados. It can also be mixed with yoghurt and fresh herbs and served as a dipping sauce or side dish. It is good dusted over feta cheese or added to a salad. Stir it through olive oil and serve with crusty bread.
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 different but still very very yummy.
Using 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.
However, I dare you to have them last more than a day!
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
Source: Adapted from the SBS originally. From the old Food Matters site.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 2 – 4 hours
cherry tomatoes or smaller round or oval tomatoes
Sea salt, Celtic if you can get it
Freshly ground black pepper
Sumac – a Middle Eastern Spice available from providores and sometimes Asian/Indian shops
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 (100 – 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.
Play. Enjoy. Eat.
From The Tomatoes Series
- Go Spanish – Tomato Paella
- Home Made Tomato Paste
- Kachumber – Indian Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad
- Light Summery Tomato Soup
- Plump Ruby Bites – Oven Dried Tomatoes
- Pomodori con Riso – Tomatoes stuffed with Rice
- Pomodori Grantinate – Gratineed Tomatoes
- Potage Crème de Tomates et de Pommes de Terre (Cream of Tomato and Potato Soup)
- Roasted Capsicum, Tomato and Peanut Soup
- Roast Tomato Fresh Chutney; Roast Tomato Dip
- Semi Dried Tomatoes with Pomegranate
- The Simplest Spaghetti
- Spicy Rustic Red Lentil Soup with Thick Thick Yoghurt