Nov 16th, 2005
Do you ever have recipes that create satellite recipes? Their very own entourage? Sometimes I'll make a dish and then the leftovers will get morphed into another dish the next night. Well this weekend I made a recipe that let to three very different dishes and I thought I'd post the whole evolution here.
I set out to make Oven-Dried Tomatoes. My mom's birthday is coming up and since she's retired and cooking these days, I thought I'd make her a little collection of interesting condiments she can use. I decided on Rosemary Vinegar, Preserved Lemons, and Oven-Dried Tomatoes. The tomatoes are a twist on the once ubiquitous sun-dried variety. You roast them in the oven for hours at a very low heat and then pack them in jars with olive oil. They keep in the fridge for about 3 months that way.
This particular recipe comes from a fabulous book by Sally Pasley Vargas called Food for Friends: homemade gifts for every season and the unique thing about it is the extremely aromatic mixture of spices that you roast along with the tomatoes. It's quite an easy recipe, the only things to keep in mind are that you'll need a long stretch of time where you'll be there to mind the oven and that the spice and tomato mixture smells so good during those long hours of cooking time that it just might drive you to distraction. Or to dreaming up new recipes... tune in tomorrow to see where my dreaming took me.
Oven-Dried TomatoesThree half-pint jars4 pounds plum tomatoes
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
Preheat the oven to 225F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut the tomatoes in half and gently sqeeze out the seeds and liquid using your finger to assist the seeds on their way. Lay them close together on the baking sheet cut side up. Combine all the herbs and spices except for the orange zest and bash them in a mortar or lay them between two sheets of saran wrap and crush them with a rolling pin or heavy frying pan. When they are coarsely crushed mix in the orange zest and crumble the spices evenly over the tomatoes.
Roast in the oven until dried (but still bendy), approximately 4 to 6 hours. They'll look a bit like dried peaches or apricots when they're done. Check them around the 3 1/2 hour mark and take out any that are done while the rest continue to cook.
Pack the tomatoes into sterilized jars and pour over enough olive oil to cover. The recipe calls for half pint jars and should make enough for 3 jars. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. The oil will become seasoned as it sits and can be used itself to lend an interesting touch to different dishes. The oil may congeal, if so just let the jar come to room temperature before using. If you're not making this as a gift you could store it in tupperware, it will just need to be used up a bit sooner.
-Sally Pasley Vargas, Food for Friends: homemade gifts for every season