How to sun or oven dry tomatoes/Sun-dried tomato and black olive spread

Sun-dried tomatoes first came about when Italians looked for a way to preserve their abundant summer crop for winter use.  but the treated tomatoes are so flavorful, they are now enjoyed all year.

Throughout the Mediterranean in August each year, brilliant red tomatoes, peppers and zucchini drying in the sun color the roofs, along with drying figs, grapes and apricots.

So, if you have couple baskets of nice ripe tomatoes sitting on your table; drying them is an easy way to save them  for later and here is how.

Cut any kind of tomato in half, scoop out the seeds and veins with a teaspoon and discard them.  Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, and place them on a kitchen towel face-down for three hours to eliminate some of the water.  Then place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking and bake in a 250-degree oven for about two hours for cherry tomatoes or three-four hours for Roma or larger ones.  The edges of the tomatoes will be curled, and the tomatoes will feel dry.  Remove from the oven and allow the tomatoes to cool.

You can place the dried tomatoes in plastic bag and refrigerate or in glass jar immersed in olive oil.  They will last longer in olive oil.

Putting them in olive oil will allow you to infuse them with other flavors, such as garlic, basil, rosemary or other herbs.  These can be used as an appetizer without anything else.

Sun-dried tomato and Black olive spread

serves 4-6

1      cup chopped sun-dried tomato

4      tablespoons olive oil

1      medium onion, finely chopped

2     cloves garlic, sliced

1     bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup crushed toasted almonds

1/2 cup chopped black cured olives

1     teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

salt to taste

-Soak the sun-dried tomato in hot water for 10 minutes.  Squeeze the water and set aside.

-Heat the olive oil and saute the onion over med-low heat until transparent.  Add the garlic and cook for extra minute.

-Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and the bell pepper.  Stir and cook over medium heat for couple minutes.

-Add the cayenne pepper, salt, and the rosemary and cook for couple minutes.

-Stir in the toasted almonds and the black olives.  Turn off the heat and serve warm or cold.

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