Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Cooking with Sun-Dried Tomatoes1

The sun is a mighty force. It works to pull fresh shoots from the ground in the spring, provides energy throughout the growing process, and then lends its energy to help preserve its bounty after harvest.

Sun-dried tomatoes first became popular in Italy before the days of easy canning. Tomatoes were spread out on top of tile roofs, to dry in order to be used in cooking throughout the winter months.2 While not as popular in Italy in the present day, sun-dried tomatoes have burst to the forefront in the United States, where they are appreciated for their robust flavor, versatility, and ability to add novelty to just about any dish.

No problem if you are afraid of heights or have no tile roof. You can still make your own sun-dried tomatoes. It might be a fun adventure to try with the family. This is one place where the blazing noonday sun will be more than welcome.

Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes
Any type of uniform sized tomatoes (Roma, with few seeds and relatively more flesh are
best). Uniform size means the tomatoes will dry at about the same time.
Salt and herbs of your choice.

Slice the tomatoes in half and place them on a raised screen. Sprinkle with salt and herbs, if you choose. Cover with cheesecloth (raised off the tomatoes) to protect against insects. Place the tomatoes in the hot sun to dry. Bring the tomatoes in at night to protect against morning dew. This method takes from 4 to 10 days, depending on weather conditions. Ten regular tomatoes yields about one ounce of dried tomatoes.

You can also use a dehydrator, or dry tomatoes at a low temperature in the oven. The grocery store is, of course, the easiest route of all.! Source: Peggy T. Filippone.

Sun-dried Tomato Sauce for Baked or Grilled Fish
2 T. butter or ghee
2 T. shallots, minced
1 T. lemon juice, strained
½ cup dry white wine
6 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), finely minced
½ t. sea salt
½ t. freshly ground pepper

In a medium-sized skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté, stirring constantly, until light golden, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until sauce is reduced to ½ cup, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over baked or grilled fish fillets.
Source: Derived from Peggy Filippone.

Easy, No-Cooking Sun-dried Tomato Sauce
½ cup softened sun dried tomatoes, with their oil
1 small clove garlic
Salt
4 chopped basil leaves, optional
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. pignoli nuts
Additional olive oil if necessary.

Place the tomatoes and a tablespoon or so of their oil in a small food processor along with the garlic and a good pinch of salt. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the basil and lemon juice and pulse the machine to blend.
Remove the paste from the machine and stir in, by hand, the nuts and just enough additional oil to make the mixture silky, but not oily. Adjust seasoning.
Sauce will keep, covered with a thin layer of oil, refrigerated in a tightly covered container, for at least a week.
Use: sparingly for a sauce for pasta, a spread on sandwiches, a dip, a condiment for fish or chicken, as a sauce for bland vegetables.
Source; Marc Bittman

Chicken Scaloppine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Peas
6 organic, boneless, skinless chicken half breasts
¼ t. salt
1.4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup flour
6 T. olive oil
1 cup chopped white onion
6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
½ cup full-bodied red wine
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. chopped Italian parsley

Remove the tenderloin from each breast and cut each half across the grain (widthwise) into three slices (to make 3 pieces from each half breast). Reserve the tenderloins for another use.
Pound each piece lightly between pieces of wax paper and dredge in flour to which you have added the salt and pepper. Shake off any excess flour.
In a large saucepan/Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat and quickly brown the chicken on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do this in batches and remove each round to a platter, covered with foil, to keep warm.
In the same saucepan with oil remaining but chicken removed, add onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes until garlic begins to brown. Add wine and sauté for 2-3 minutes more, deglazing the pan. Add the tomato sauce and stock and bring to a boil. Add the peas, and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Return chicken to the sauce until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Source: Nick Stellino

Barley, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Scallions
3 T. butter or ghee
1 ½ cups pearl barley
1 medium bunch scallion (green and white portions), sliced thin
10 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, chopped into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups chicken broth
2 ½ cps hot water
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Add barley and stir-fry until it begins to turn white, about 2 minutes. Add scallions and garlic, stirring constantly for an additional minute. Carefully add chicken broth and water, while stirring with a long-handled spoon. Add sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until barley is tender to the bite, about 40-45 minutes. Serves 4.
Source: Peggy Filippone.

Marie’s Broccoli Rabe with Sun-dried Tomatoes and White Beans

1 bunch broccoli rabe
Pinch of salt
2 T. ev olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 ½ cups cooked cannelini or great northern beans
½ t. red pepper flakes
6 sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated until soft, drained and minced
2-3 T. parmesan cheese
Sea salt to taste

Cut broccoli rabe into bite sized pieces. In a medium pot, bring 3 quarts of filtered water to a boil. Add salt and rabe and boil until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Shock greens in cold water and drain.
In a medium sauce pan, heat oil. Add garlic and cook on low heat until just tender, but do not burn. Remove garlic. Add beans to pan with pepper flakes, tomatoes, and rabe. Cook two minutes. Add cheese if using, season to taste and serve.
Source: Sue Baldassano and Ellen Arian.

  1. Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, known to move calcium in the body. If you suffer from arthritis and joint pain, you might want to substitute another ingredient or eliminate the tomatoes from these recipes. []
  2. Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, Your Guide to Home Cooking. []