summer lovin': mi cuit tomatoes


mi cuit tomatoes - July 2011
I love tomatoes in all their forms, but was sadly very disappointed by a new range of cherry tomatoes from a leading supermarket. They were so pretty, with an almost bell-like in shape. Sadly they had no flavour whatsoever. (Really, what is the point of selling tomatoes which taste of "absolutely nothing with the merest hint of tomato"? she growls.) 

So what is a girl to do? Mi cuit tomatoes I think (that's partially dried tomatoes to you and me). Essentially they are oven dried, but instead of leaving them for 3 hours which results in a leathery bite of tomato (not necessarily a bad thing), you halve the time in the oven and get a still juicy but intensely tomatoey tomato. Well that's the plan anyway. 

These little morsels of intense flavour are great in salads and a good way of adding a little oomph to your sandwich, as a savoury sweetness to stews, especially Spag Bol.
I also make sure that I add them to a jar of olive oil while still hot. It imparts the tomato flavour to the oil and after a few months I use that oil for cooking and make up a new batch of tomatoes with fresh oil.
Skill level: Easy

ingredients:
tomatoes (preferably baby plum)
olive oil

directions:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Wash the tomatoes and halve. I don't bother to de-seed them as 1) Life is just too short and 2) I quite like the seeds.
  3. Arrange on a baking sheet and make sure that they are all cut-side up.
  4. Turn the heat down to 120C / Gas Mark ½ and bake the tomatoes, checking every 30 minutes or so for up to 1½ hours (90 minutes). These will definitely need 1 hour but may need longer.
  5. Add to a jar of olive oil while still warm to infuse the oil with tomato flavours.
  6. Make sure that the tomatoes are well covered (at least 1cm) with oil to protect them from bacteria.
  7. You can store them in the fridge for several weeks but the oil will solidify. So you will need to remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before using, to bring the tomatoes and oil back to room temperature.
tips:
  • Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and black pepper.
  • Sprinkle with dried or fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano or basil.
  • Half way through cooking, top with a little crushed garlic.

5 comments:

  1. Totally agree with you.. Some tomatoes sold in the supermarket is virtually tasteless! Thanks for the lovely idea and have a great week ahead!

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  2. Dont know about England but have been buying really flavoursome cherry toms and slightly bigger ones called berry toms at LIDL of all places.Love your recipe for cut the drying time tomatoes.will be thinking of all this in acouple of months when the glut of our own crop descend on me!!!

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  3. FGF - I get on my high horse about this . . . what on earth is the point of selling tomatoes that don't taste of tomatoes! Grrr!

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  4. Rupert - Not all of the supermarket tomatoes are flavourless but . . . my favourite come from my local Italian deli - unfortunately they aren't locally grown but taste divine - probably the Sicilian sunshine!

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  5. Hey you!

    I seem to remember that once tomatoes drop below a certain temperature the chemistry behind the ripening process stops and yr stuck with 'hint of tomato'. Hence the never-keep-in-fridge rule?

    I'm totally with you and FGF on supermarket toms.... I haven't found any that warrant less than a week of windowsill time. Something about sunshine, time and a diet of radio 4 seems to help them along. :-)

    On other stuff - i did try oven drying tomatoes a couple of times, but ended up with a thin stew. Is there some awesome trick to get them dried without them cooking to a mush?

    I've always been in awe of yr ability to do that one. ;-)

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