Tomatoes are at their best right now and beautiful, locally grown tomatoes are abundantly available at area farmers´ markets, therefore, as the third recipe in my "River Cottage Veg Everyday" series, I chose the perfect late August recipe, namely "Oven-dried tomatoes".
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall comments his recipe by pointing out that "commercially 'sun-dried' tomatoes are often lip-pursingly intense, sharp and sometimes a little leathery. Home-dried ones are altogether different." And this recipe proves him right. And what I really like is the fact that this recipe is also an easy way to improve somewhat "indifferent" tomatoes by oven-drying them using this recipe.
All you need for these Oven-dried tomatoes is tomatoes, some sugar, a few sprigs of thyme and and some bay leaves (both these herbs grow in the garden), plus some good-quality olive oil and some fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I could not help it and added some rosemary and a bit of garlic as well.
However you will need a few hours time for this recipe since the first step is "to cure" the halved tomatoes for about an hour with a sprinkling of salt and sugar, place them on a rack and wait for juices to drip. After that it is the oven-drying for 4 to 5 hours (if you are like me and prefer the tomatoes "semi-dried") or 7 to 8 hours (if you prefer your tomatoes to be more on the "dry side").
There is no end to the uses that you can put these tomatoes to such as adding them to pesto, frittatas, sandwiches, serving them as part of an antipasto or mezze platter, or even as nibbles with some fresh bread such as ciabatta or breadsticks such as grissinis or alongside some wonderful cheese.
This recipe is not a labor intensive process, but certainly a lengthy one. Once dried, store these tasty gems in the refrigerator with a generous coating of more olive oil.
If you own the English edition of this vegetable cookbook, you will find the recipe for these wonderful Oven-dried Tomatoes on page 304 in the chapter on "Mezze & Tapas".