Thursday, October 23, 2008

Crispy Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Garlic


This summer was the first summer in perhaps 10 years that I put a garden in. It wasn’t an ambitious plot by any stretch — just a few tomato, eggplant, bean, and pepper plants; a handful of radishes; a few herbs; and one ridiculously productive grape tomato plant.

This St. Nicholas grape tomato plant produced pint after pint of the most delicious grape tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. Thin-skinned and sweet, the tomatoes grew in generous clusters that seemed to ripen on cue, every other day. Even now, at the end of the growing season, my hale St. Nicholas still has a few forlorn yellow blossoms clinging stubbornly to it.



But such a tremendous volume of these little gems turned out to be an embarrassment of riches. There are just so many grape tomatoes you can eat on a salad every day, and my attempts to give them away were unsuccessful. (Apparently, none of my friends like tomatoes.) My parents and in-laws were growing their own. Even our poor guinea pig was growing tired of the single-source vitamin C booster.



I tried roasting the little tomatoes, but they fell apart into a soupy mess with a somewhat disconcerting texture. And then I hit on the idea of turning the oven down and drying the tomatoes instead of roasting them. Success!

Drying the tomatoes instead of roasting them works something like culinary magic. Grape tomatoes are good. Grape tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, and slowly oven-dried along with thick slices of fresh garlic are transformed. They become crispy, tangy-salty-sweet little morsels that are every bit as addictive as potato chips. I have been known to consume a good portion of the batch as it cools on the baking sheet, fresh from the oven.

Try them plain as a snack, toss a few into a salad or a pasta dish, or use them in anything that you’d use sun-dried tomatoes in.



Oven-Dried Grape or Cherry Tomatoes


  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes*
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced about 1/8" thick
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher salt works well)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Wash and spin-dry tomatoes. Pick over and remove any that are blemished or moldy.
    Cut tomatoes in half and place in a nonreactive mixing bowl; add garlic slices. Drizzle tomatoes and garlic with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat.
  3. Pour tomatoes out onto baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place sheet in oven and cook at 225 degrees F for about 2 hours. Turn tomatoes with a spatula and return to oven. Check again in about 1 hour; return to oven if tomatoes are not dry. Tomatoes are done when they are dry and crispy. The bigger and thicker tomatoes in the bunch should still be tender and pliable; none should be charred. Store these in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container and used within 2 to 3 days.

*Feel free to scale this recipe to accommodate your tomato booty.



Recipe Notes:

  • You can use store-bought grape or cherry tomatoes for this recipe too. The next time your purchased pint of grape tomatoes starts getting a bit wrinkly, don't throw it out ~ oven-dry those tomatoes! Buy two pints when they go on sale and dry them!
  • Because these tomatoes aren't "hard dried," that is, they aren't completely free from moisture, I store them in the refrigerator to prevent them from getting moldy. They will soften a bit, but the flavor will still be excellent. Use them exactly as you would sun-dried tomatoes. Try chopping them and adding them to a vinaigrette for a tossed green salad!
  • My kids love these. They make a great snack, as they have a taste and texture like snack chips but they're good-for-you tomatoes. From personal experience, I can tell you, if you're making these to use in a recipe, make extra for snacking (or hide them from your kids).
  • If your grape tomatoes are of varying sizes and they're drying at different rates, you can remove the crispy ones as they're finished and return the baking sheet with the remainder of the tomatoes to the oven to finish drying. Check on them every half hour or so.

This is an update of an earlier post ~ you can see the original here.

14 comments:

  1. These look so much better than store-bought sun-dried tomatoes. It makes me want to start gardening!

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  2. Yum...I just made a roasted grape tomato sauce, but these look amazing...

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  3. wow! those look delicious! i love tomatoes and garlic!!

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  4. What a fantastic idea! I can almost taste them from reading this post!

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  5. These look delish! Is there any reason one couldn't store these in oil for a substitute on faux sundried tomatoes?

    Kate

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  6. What a great way to preserve your tomatoes - makes me wistful for a garden ...

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  7. ~Maris: They are much better - hard to describe the difference; you'll just have to make them! BTW, store-bought work just fine! If the ones I buy get a little wrinkly, I dry them.

    ~Maggie: I think a roasted grape tomatoe sauce sounds delicious too!

    ~Heather: Then this is definitely for you! The garlic gets nice and crunchy. Yum!

    ~Patsyk: I'm surprised you can't smell them! I was making a batch as I wrote the post and I think the whole neighborhood knew it! (Not a bad thing.)

    ~Cakelaw: I'm wistful for my garden, too. It looks like Halloween night in there. Talk about your killing frost! At least I have my crispy tomatoes to soothe the pangs of loss. :)

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  8. ~Kate: I've never tried it - I'm not sure what the botulism risk would be . . . It would be worth looking into though - both the tomatoes and the storage oil would be delicious!

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  9. These sound absolutely phenomenal! I have to try this. Thanks!

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  10. ~Eatingclub: Thank you! I hope you give these a try . . . I think you'll like them!

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  11. I won't get tomatoes for some months, but I'll keep this in mind. Not only are grape tomatoes prolific, but the ones that drop become volunteers for the next years garden.

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  12. I googled oven-dried grape tomatoes and came across your blog.
    Now I know it can be done. Thanks for your blog post. I love oven-dried tomatoes!

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