Friday, December 27, 2013

Oven-Dried Tomatoes



When its the middle of winter and your recipe calls for tomatoes you can always used canned, or you can have something far superior simply by turning on the oven. 

Tomatoes are full of flavor. They're also full of water. Getting rid of the water concentrates and intensifies the flavor, but most of the time roasted tomatoes collapse by the time full flavor develops—think fresh tomatoes cooking down into sauce. A treat, to be sure, but a different way of experiencing the tomato.


As an alternative, tomatoes baked extremely slowly, in a 200°F/95°C oven, have all the concentrated flavor of a long-simmered tomato sauce, but each tomato retains its shape, creating colorful, chewy (and pretty) little bombs of tomato flavor. 

The trick is low heat, long cooking—and keeping your hands off! Low heat at the beginning of cooking activates an enzyme in the vegetable’s cell walls that prevents the cells from weakening; if you don’t stir or otherwise disturb them, the tomato pieces remains intact, even after hours of cooking.  

Serve oven-dried tomatoes as a side dish, toss with pasta, use in stews and braises, or anywhere that a cooked (or canned) tomato is called for. 

Oven-Dried Tomatoes (from page 50, Cooking Slow)



Makes 10 to 12 servings

3 lb/1.4 kg ripe plum tomatoes, cored and quartered lengthwise
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup/ 60 ml olive oil
2 tsp whole crystal sea salt, oversized crystals crushed between your fingers
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°F/95°C.

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet and toss to mix and coat well. Shake the pan to make everything slide into a single layer.

Roast until the tomatoes have shrunk by about half and no longer appear wet on their surface, about 6 hours. There’s no need to peek or stir during cooking, and no harm done if they roast for an extra hour or so.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 15 minutes to firm up. Scrape off the pan using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and use as directed in the recipe.



Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: about 6 hours

Store: for up to 5 days, covered in the refrigerator.

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