It’s been the most incredible warm, dry, sunny September here in Seattle and the whole place, even my little sidewalk veggie patch, is overflowing with ripe tomatoes. (If you’ve ever been to Seattle in September before you’ll know that it’s usually green tomato central round here).
The farmers’ markets are teeming with fragrant ripe toms of every shape, size and hue and I’ve been desperately roasting them, drying them, making sauce and jugs of gazpacho (on the blog soon) until it comes out of our ears, in a frantic race against time to make the most of the bounty.
One quick and easy way to use up great tomatoes, particularly any pretty cherry or small tomatoes you can find, is to dry them in the oven.
Pick off the stalks and calyxes and wash the tomatoes. Pat them dry with kitchen towel. Put them in a bowl and add around a tablespoon of olive oil and a little pepper and good salt (I usually use Maldon Sea Salt). Swish everything around with your hands until each tomato is coated with oil and seasoning and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You could add some chopped fresh herbs at this point.
Heat the oven to its lowest possible temperature – my oven goes down to 180 degrees F (around 80 degrees C) – and then bake the tomatoes for a number of hours until they reach the level of dryness you want.
These have been cooked down to a medium level of squishiness (mi cuit),
Some of my mi cuit tomatoes have been stored in Ziploc bag in the freezer, ready to be slipped into sauces, casseroles, soups, stews in the winter months, but I also experimented in preserving some of them in oil.
Sterilise a pretty jar and pack with dried tomatoes. I added my tomatoes hot from the oven so as to the flavour the oil as much as possible. Pour some good olive oil over the top leaving around an inch of headspace and tuck in garlic, herbs, spices or small chilis for flavour. I used branches of rosemary and slivers of garlic in this batch.
I’m not sure how long these will last as they have not been properly canned. I suggest you use yours up with two or three weeks (this will not be a problem as they so utterly delicious). I’ve had mine for two weeks now and they are still perfect and taste mindblowingly good in salad or as an accompaniment to charcuterie. When you’ve used up all the tomatoes, the flavoured oil will be fabulous on salad or pasta.
Last night I chopped some of mine up fairly finely and added them to some melted butter and lemon juice as a topping for roasted halibut and they truly were exceptional.