I’ve never been a great fan of sun-dried tomatoes. They appeared in the UK at the end of the eighties, and throughout the nineties no self-respecting sandwich cafe or restaurant was without at least one item of a mozzarella (usually of the Danish rubbery variety) and sun-dried tomato combination. To me, they were chewy, salty and generally unpleasant, and added nothing to the texture of a sandwich or salad.
The main reason for drying tomatoes is to preserve them during a glut. But the process is also good for intensifying the flavour, as long as this isn’t overdone. Part of the pleasure of eating a tomato is the juiciness after all. This recipe aims to remove some of the moisture but keep the freshness at the same time. I’m not fussy about removing the seeds and juice, as I’m always trying to keep things simple, but if you want a more concentrated effect, this does make it so.
I made it with:
450 g of tomatoes
8 good sprigs of thyme (preferably lemon thyme)
2 fat cloves of garlic
1/2 tspn sea salt
1 tspn white sugar
1. Preset the oven to 100 degrees C
2. Pour a couple of glugs of olive oil into an oven proof dish
3. Cut the tomatoes in at least 8 wedges (the idea is to let them dry out from their cut sides), and lay them the rows in the dish.
4. Tuck the thyme sprigs between the rows together with the chopped garlic
5. Brush a little more oil over them
6. Sprinkle the salt and sugar over evenly
7. Place in the oven uncovered for 1 hour
If you want a more concentrated version, as well as removing the seeds, you can turn them after an hour and cook them for a further hour.
I made this last night, and just tossed it through some spaghetti. Or you could have it as as a sauce with lamb or salmon, hot or cold. And, there is a theory that cooked tomatoes are more nutritious than raw ones, so win win all round!