Pomodori Essiccati in Forno
The Jersey Tomato season has begun! This is a great time to make fresh and vibrant tomato dishes! Pretty soon, people will be canning this beautiful fruit to have it over the winter months. You know, pack it with a little “sale”, “basilico”, and perhaps a teaspoon of “succo di limone.” Canning tomatoes can be a major event in some families. Friends and family get together and make the day out of it.
But, today, I’m not talking about canning these little red beauties. Let’s talk about drying them out in the oven. Listen, if you love sun-dried tomatoes you will love these. If you hate sun-dried tomatoes….You will still love these!! The nice thing about using your oven to roast or dry out the tomatoes is that you can stop it anytime you wish. You may want to make them a little more on the juicy side. This way, you get the intense tomato flavor along with some juiciness. Very nice, believe me. It’s just a step beyond a sloppy roasted tomato that’s leaking all over your dish, but much better! And let’s not forget how we are going to season these babies…it’s flavor heaven. And then, how to use them? The possibilities are endless.
How To Make:
I recommend in season Plum/Roma tomatoes grown in Jersey soil. Make how many as you want as long as you have the time and the oven space. Do not do anything to the tomato except to give it a nice healthy “lavaggio” (wash). I don’t like to wash my produce in a strainer with water running over the top. I rather get a container and submerge in cold water and swish them around in it then drain.
Pat the tomatoes dry. Line some baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise as pictured and place on baking sheets with cut side up. Sprinkle them with salt and place in the oven at 190 degrees Fahrenheit. That is it. Do not do anything to the tomato like core it or try to get the juice out of it so it dehydrates faster. Just cut it, add some salt and cook. That’s it. Don’t add any other seasonings at this point either. Just simply dehydrate the tomato to your liking.
As far as cooking time goes it all depends. I personally like dehydrating to the texture of a classic sun dried but maybe just a tad softer with some more moisture. That could be 190 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 hours or more depending on the tomato. If you want to pack in oil with herbs you need to get almost all of the moisture out to avoid them becoming rancid too quickly. However, you can get them to a firm but juicy stage, season and serve with an antipasto. It’s delicious, but you just can’t hang on to them for too long.
For today’s purposes, we are going to bring them to the point as pictured above. At this stage, they can be packed in oil with a little salt, pepper and thyme. Do not add garlic when packing in oil. If you like garlic in the marinade, add some minced or sliced garlic prior to serving. I personally like the use of rosemary when packing. It’s not typically used with a tomato but if you use a very modest amount, I feel it goes well with the bold flavor these tomatoes produce.
So for packing in oil, just get your favorite jar, season with desired herbs. Fill to the top with tomato and extra virgin olive oil. Keep in a cool dry space. They should last for months. But remember, you need to dehydrate to dryness for them to stay well for an extended amount of time.
Just a little tip. Sometimes the oven can be a little too intense for the tomato. You may want to pull them out of there at a certain point towards the end but still wish they were a little more dehydrated. After taking them out of the oven, spread them out over a table with a fan running over them overnight. They will be perfect in the morning. You may get a few fruit flies though! No biggie!!
There are so many uses for tomatoes prepared like this. Pictured above I made a simple “all’olio” sauce infusing diced oven dried tomatoes and then adding whole ones to penne pasta. The dish may look pretty simple, but it’s booming with intense tomato flavor!!
Best of luck with the recipe and thanks for visiting!