Cathi Dicocco’s Oven-Dried Tomatoes
These tomato gems are sweet, delicious, and a snap to make. Oven drying enhances the sweetness while preserving tomatoes at a time when they’re abundantly in season and affordable. You can also do this with cherry tomatoes and you don’t even need to scoop out the innards – Sungolds work well and are amazingly sweet and wonderful in a simple sauce over pasta. If using cherry tomatoes, make your cut across the “equator.”
Roma tomatoes (about three pounds)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Cut off the stem end and then cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Gently scoop out the juicy insides. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, cut side up. Sprinkle with a little coarse kosher salt and a few turns of fresh black pepper. Some people like to add a little sugar to increase the sweetness of the tomato, but this isn’t usually necessary.
Set the pan in the oven and bake for two to three hours. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process or the tomatoes will burn. Slow cooking dehydrates the tomatoes, which is what you want to accomplish.
For preserving the tomatoes you’ll want them dry, leathery, and flexible. Since tomatoes vary in size, some halves may remain a little moist, so simply return those to the oven to dry a little more, or you can use them immediately. To preserve the tomatoes in oil they need to be consistently dry. Water will cause the tomatoes to become rancid over a long period of time.
Cover the dried tomatoes with olive oil in a lidded jar to preserve or seal for longer storage.