Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.
So I've got a bunch of really ugly tomatoes ripening in my basement right now.
Which is why it was so perfect that I got Miz Helen's Country Cottage this month for the Secret Recipe Club. She hails from Texas and is thereby obligated by Texas state law to provide plenty of stick to your ribs kinds of meals/desserts (the brownie torte I'm going to make comes to mind), though hers tend to have plenty of finesse (and they're not all of the stick to your ribs variety). Like her oven dried tomatoes.
This recipe was especially appealing to me because--did I mention my ugly tomato situation--but also because I often dry my tomatoes in a dehydrator. That's all fine and good, but I've often wanted to do some that were accessible to the non-dehydrator-owning crowd. Perfect.
And you know, I liked hers even better. They weren't as thoroughly dried as their dehydrated counterparts (Miz Helen says they'll keep for 3 months in the fridge, but mine kept for 12 hours and were gone--2 pounds all mine), but because of the roasting they come out with this more complex, roasty flavor, which I LOVE.
I do have one note. Miz Helen says to leave them in the oven at 250 for 3 hours. And she says you can leave them up to 6 hours. But don't think this means you shouldn't check them at 3 hours, because you should. You might even want to check that at 2 1/2 hours. Or you should set the oven to 200. This is especially true if your tomatoes are not all sliced, um, exactly in the same thicknesses, not that I happen to know anyone who might slice her ugly tomatoes in such a careless way.
I checked mine at 3 1/2 hours and the outer ones and little ones were crispy and a little blackish around the edges. I happen to like blackish around the edges where roasted things are concerned and I ate those ones that night as a sort of tomato chip (mmm, tomato chips). The rest I ate the next day like this, and--oh--they were pretty much beyond amazing.
Oven Dried Tomatoes
from Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Cost: nearly free, you ugly tomatoes, you
2 lb Roma tomatoes (they work best since they have the fewest juices and seeds; if you want to use another variety, you may want to remove some of the seeds/juices, though not all as they add to the flavor of the tomatoes)
spices (Miz Helen recommends a whole slew as options--basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme. I thought that was a great idea, but went simple with merely salt and pepper)
1. You're going to remove the grody parts of your ugly tomatoes. Get it all gone. Good job.
2. Next slice them lengthwise. Try to keep your slices as uniform as possible, but don't stress if they're not.
3. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet (do this or you will be beating yourself with a spatula later on).
4. Brush olive oil onto the top of the tomatoes.
5. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper (generously, people) and then with whatever other seasonings you wish.
6. Bake at 200 or 250 for 3-4 hours. Give them a check at 2 1/2 hours. If some are already dry and ready to come out, remove them and then put the rest back in to finish drying.
7. Allow them to cool and eat them plain as snacks or throw into a meal. They go great with pasta, rice, or salad.
How I Ate Mine should anyone care to know what one might do with oven dried tomatoes
1 C cooked spaghetti
1 generous Tbsp pesto
1-2 tsp cream
1 Tbsp Parmesan or Romano cheese
as many tomatoes as you can cram in there
Mix all together and eat.