Thursday, 29 August 2013

Oven dried tomatos

A cancer diagnosis my circle of friends was hit with a couple of years ago was bit of a shock to say the least - it was less than a year after another friend of mine had been snatched away by that devilish disease. In his attempt to give me something else to think about and something to celebrate life The Gentleman planted me a herb garden. Rosemary, chives and mint have taken on the task with appropriate zest for life, basil seems to be struggling a bit. With coriander I've had to abandon all hope. Now, after yet another similar diagnosis thyme and lemon thyme have been added to the patch. 

Being able to step outside to collect fresh herbs form your own garden is one of life's little big luxuries. This time they found use in oven dried tomatos. The end result is more zaftig (oooh, how I love Yiddish!) than the store-bought sun dried variety, but equally versatile. Serve them on their own in tapas-table, in salads (especially in Saint Tropez salad!), on bread, in pizzas, as a foodie gift... 

Some recipes call for honey to be mixed with the oil, but as I prefer acidity, I added a tiny splash of white wine vinegar. 

This recipe yields two jars like the ones in the photo (each a little shy of 0,5 litres) 


750 gr ripe (plum) tomatos 

1 generous tsp sugar 

1 generous tbsp dried basil 

salt, pepper 

2 sprigs of rosemary 

2 sprigs of thyme 

2 garlic cloves 


3 dl olive oil 

2 sprigs of rosemary 

2 sprigs of thyme 

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 

1 tbsp white wine vinegar 

Cut the tomatos lengthways into slices of about 1 cm thick. Place them on parchment, sprinkle sugar, basil and thinly sliced garlic on top. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Dry in the oven (90°-100°) for 4-5 hours (depends on the juiciness of the tomatos, thickness of the slices and desired consistency). Though mine was a fan assisted oven, for best results it was best to leave the door slightly open, using a wooden spoon as a tool. This way the moisture evaporates quicker. 

Combine the ingredients for the oil and place the tomatos in layers with oil into jars so that the tomatos are covered in oil. Squeeze in the herbs and keep in cold letting the flavours come together for at least  24 hours before serving. 

When you're done with the tomatos, don't throw the oil away - use it for frying or in salad dressings! 

And though this blog doesn't even pretend to be equipped to give anything other than recipes, here's one lesson everyone should learn and remember: love is the one commodity we can all afford to waste - even in today's sombre economy. It is the one thing that only grows the more we give it away. So, do remember to love now as there might not be tomorrow. 

This big luxury of my tiny life reminded me of its relevance just now as I received the news of yet another friend dying. She had just embarked on her new life in the sun she'd been dreaming of for so long... only for it to be cut short quicker than anyone could have seen coming. 

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