These oven-dried tomatoes are nothing like their sun-dried cousins. They aren't the ultra-dry, chewy tomatoes you find jarred at the supermarket. No, these oven-dried tomatoes are luscious, tender, and — forgive me for saying this — completely obsession-worthy. Trust me, I've eaten through two batches already this summer.
Beyond being a no-fail method for preserving a bumper crop of plum or Roma tomatoes, oven-dried tomatoes stored in olive oil make a lovely hostess gift and are equally at home in your morning scrambled eggs as they are on pasta. They'll also do double duty as an appetizer and a topping for toast. Making these tomatoes only requires three ingredients, a little bit of aluminum foil, and time.
No Dehydrator, No Problem
If you think of home dehydrators as equipment only for preservation pros, you're not alone. Although modern dehydrators are relatively inexpensive, I've never had the space to store one. Food dehydrators are essentially an enclosed container with several racks for holding food, with a small fan that creates circulating air for drying. By stacking a few wire cooling racks on top of each other and using a very low temperature, you can pretty much replicate a dehydrator at home in your oven.
Plum or Roma tomatoes work best for oven-drying because, despite their reputation for being bland, these tomatoes are sturdy and uniform in size. They hold up well for hours of long, slow cooking. One trick for making these oven-dried tomatoes even more flavorful is quite simple: Dry the tomatoes cut-side up. The tomato's juices collect in the cavity left behind from the pulp and concentrate inside the tomato instead of dripping off onto the pan below.
Store in Olive Oil
Since these oven-dried tomatoes still contain a fair amount of moisture, they should be stored in the refrigerator. To lengthen their shelf life, cover the finished tomatoes in olive oil. The olive oil will become infused with the flavor; add it to pasta sauces or drizzle it over fresh bruschetta.
How to Use Oven-Dried Tomatoes
One of my favorite ways to eat these tomatoes is straight from the jar. We've also enjoyed them finely chopped and folded into soft scrambled eggs, or simply tossed with warm pasta and Parmesan cheese (my children devoured this). They are equally at home on vegetarian sandwiches as they are on a BLT. They'd be amazing on burgers. We've served the tomatoes warmed over fresh feta with crusty bread for dipping. I bet the leftover olive oil would make an incredible topping for popcorn, too.
How To Dry Tomatoes in the Oven
What You Need
2 pounds plum or Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Measuring cups and spoons
2 to 3 wire cooling racks
Rimmed baking sheet
2 pint glass jars
- Prep the tomatoes: Rinse the tomatoes under cool water and pat dry.
- Slice and core the tomatoes: Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the core in each half by cutting a shallow "V" on either side of the core.
- Remove the tomato pulp: Use a spoon to scoop out the tomato seeds and as much of the juicy pulp around the seeds as possible.
- Season the tomatoes: Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, season with the salt, and toss until well-coated.
- Hack a dehydrator: Arrange a rack in the lowest part of the oven, remove all other racks, and heat to 200°F or its lowest setting. Make 12 aluminum foil balls, each about the size of a golf ball, and flatten slightly.
- Lay out the tomatoes: Lay the tomatoes cut-side up on 2 to 3 wire cooling racks, making sure they do not touch. Stack the racks on a rimmed baking sheet, using the foil balls as spacers in each corner between the racks.
- Dry the tomatoes: Place the baking sheet and racks in the oven and dry until the tomatoes are shriveled around the edges but still plump, 4 to 6 hours.
- Storage: Cool the tomatoes to room temperature. Transfer them to 2 pint jars (or other glass storage container), cover with the olive oil, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.