How to Make Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes

by Kirke on September 22, 2013

Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes

A Lesson in How to Make Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes.

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Even in fog cooled San Francisco summer, home gardeners can find themselves with bucket loads of cherry tomatoes ripening all at once at the end of September (SF season). A small family can consume only so many green salads chock full of summer cherry tomato goodness. And friends, neighbors, and extended family members will only thank you genuinely once a season when offered a quart-full of the sweet jewels. So what is a green-thumbed grower to do?

Most food lovers have tried or at least heard of sun-dried tomatoes, once ubiquitous on California Cuisine or Italian restaurant menus. Few people know how easy it is to re-create the product in their home ovens. Some commercial sun-dried tomatoes have actually been dried by the sun on bamboo racks on a picturesque Italian rooftop. Many more are dried in fruit/vegetable drying machines. But wasn’t the energy used to run those drying machines originally created by ancient sun-driven photosynthesis? By the same logic, my technique for oven-drying cherry tomatoes could really be called sun-dried as well, the energy coming from natural gas. But I will call this method oven-dried cherry tomatoes, and not challenge troublesome semantics.

My method for making oven-dried cherry tomatoes is easy, although a bit arduous. Think of the process as a Zen like experience as you pluck the stems, slice each precisely in half, and carefully lay each, cut side up on a rack, reciting your mantra—Ohmmmm….then go take a long nap during the Slow Food step, four hours of drying, rendering the fresh cherry tomatoes into morsels of concentrated summer flavor. Once finished, try one of the three cherry tomato relish condiment recipes I’ve created to optimize the result. Read on…

Oven-dried Cherry Tomatoes by Chef Kirke Byers

For the oven drying, you will need:

  1. Around 2 lbs. of cherry tomatoes (2-3 baskets), of any shape
  2. A rimmed cookie sheet (13 by 18 inches exterior, in restaurant parlance: a half sheet pan), with about 12-15 inch interior surface area
  3. One or two wire pan grates, racks that fit inside (see photos)
  4. A clean dish towel
  5. A colander and a bowl or two
  6. An air tight, 2 cup container
  7. Extra virgin olive oil
  8. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  9. Optional: a squished garlic clove, and/or a sprig of fresh thyme or oregano
  10. Watch the how to video above
  11. Patience and perseverance
  12. An oven, pre-heated to 200°F

This recipe will yield about one and a half cups, or 6.2 oz. of finished product

  • To start, begin meditating with your choice of mantra, and/or put on your favorite playlist.
  • Pluck off the stem from each cherry tomato, tossing the de-stemmed into a bowl.
  • Fill the bowl with cold water, gently stirring with your hands, letting any remaining plant detritus to float the top, which you will then remove.
  • Lift the tomatoes out of the water and drain into a colander.
  • Spread the tomatoes out on a clean dish towel, patting them dry.
  • Using a sharp and/or serrated paring knife, cut each cherry tomato in half through where the stem used to be. This helps the pulp stay in the petite tomato half. Repeat…
  • Set the wire pan grate (s) into the sheet pan.
  • Arrange them on the wire rack as close as you can without them touching each other, more or less. Is that as fast as you can do it? Ohmmm…
  • Sprinkle with the sea salt and grind some black pepper over the cut tomatoes.
  • Once you have checked and made sure each tomato is properly placed cut side up, put the pan in the pre-heated oven. Cook for 4 hours.
  • At the half way point, around 2 hours, give the pan a half turn for even heating.
  • When they have finished cooking, remove onto a rack for cooling.
  • Put the oven-dried little raisin-ette tomatoes in an air tight container.
  • Cover with extra virgin olive oil until ready to use. They will keep for a couple of weeks un-opened.
  • Optional: add a squished garlic clove and/or a sprig of fresh thyme or oregano.
  • Or you can use them immediately for any or all of the following recipes.

Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relishes

Three Recipes for Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes
Three Recipes for Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes
Three Recipes for Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes

 

Now that you have meditated on oven-dried cherry tomatoes, what do you do with these tasty faceted morsels? What follows are three different recipes for cherry tomato relishes that can be used a multitude of delectable ways. All three pair well with chicken, pork or fish: grilled, sautéed, or roasted. The olive version is great with steak; some might even like the spicy fresh orange segment recipe with beef. Don’t hesitate to experiment. Serve all at room temperature to allow the flavors to bloom.

Oven-dried cherry tomatoes with corn and fresh basil

Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Corn and Basil
Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Corn and Basil
Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Corn and Basil

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oven-dried cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup (1/2 ear) boiled, steamed or grilled corn, cut off the cob
2 Tbs. red onion, chopped
8 each basil leaves, de-stemmed, washed and patted dried
1/2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar
1 Tbs. pure olive oil
1/8 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:

  • Take the basil leaves and stack them together. Roll them up and then slice thinly. You have just “julienned” basil leaves! Demos can be found on YouTube.
  • Mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Toss gently together. Don’t worry about breaking up all the corn kernels; it looks homemade to have slabs of corn.
  • Taste f0r seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Spicy Oven-dried Cherry Tomato relish with Orange and Chile

Spicy Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Orange and Chile
Spicy Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Orange and Chile
Spicy Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Orange and Chile

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oven-dried cherry tomatoes
One Valencia or navel orange (organic is best)
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 each serrano chile, minced
1/4 tsp. white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar
1 Tbs. pure olive oil
1 Tbs. (Optional) coarsely chopped cilantro, stems and leaves
1/8 tsp. sea salt or to taste
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:

  • Using a plane zester or fine cheese grater, grate the orange rind, avoiding the bitter white pith.
  • Cut off each end of the orange. Using where the white pith meets the flesh as a guide, cut down along the curved shape of the orange, removing all the peel. Then, holding the peeled fruit in one hand, cut along each membrane, freeing up the pulp of the orange. You have just segmented an orange! Demos can be found on YouTube.
  • Peel the red onion and cut in half. Place the cut side down and use a sharp knife to cut as thinly as you can.
  • For very spicy, leave in the seeds of the serrano chile. For less spicy, scrape the seeds and membrane out. Beware or the chile oils on your fingers! Or use latex gloves.
  • If you choose to use cilantro, add just before serving.
  • Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss very gently until blended.
  • This relish lasts refrigerated for several days.
  • Bring to room temperature before serving.

Oven-dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Olives, Capers and Shallots

Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Olives, Capers and Shallots
Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Olives, Capers and Shallots
Oven-Dried Cherry Tomato Relish with Olives, Capers and Shallots

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oven-dried cherry tomatoes
2 each green olives, pitted
4 each kalamata olives, pitted
1 heaping tsp. capers, lightly chopped
1 small clove of garlic
1/8 cup shallot, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped(sub. oregano, or parsley)
1/4 tsp. Banyuls or sherry vinegar
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
no salt needed

 

Method:

  • To pit the olives, gently squish each with the side of a big knife, remove pit. Cut the olives into strips.
  • Cut the garlic clove in half and remove any existing green sprout, which has a bitter flavor. Smash with the big knife, too. Then mince.
  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • This relish will keep refrigerated for a week.
  • Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jessica September 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Delicious! Sun dried Indigo Rose tomatoes are so yummy!

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Kirke September 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm

No doubt about it, thanks to your tempting arrangement. Readers: Visit ouroborosfarms.com to learn more about the ‘Plant Whisperer.’

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