Anything that has an unusual color or shape attracts me. So I had no choice but to give the vegetable stall owner my money and in return walk away with a bag of orange cocktail tomatoes. Regular Joe tomatoes on the other hand seem to continuously become larger and decreasingly tasty – I buy them less and less. Sometimes, depending on the use, I might open up a can of whole tomatoes (not diced); e.g. for self-made pizza. But these little orange fellows are so yummy, they have a valid shot at becoming my new favorite tomato. Barring the mess I made, when I popped the first one into my mouth (unwashed – shame on me…), all bite-happy. This tomato was so juicy, it burst and left me with spots of tomato juice on the counter, the unpacked groceries and – of course – my T. Greedy me.
What happened to regular tomatoes? Not to derail on another nostalgic detour, but good tasting tomatoes always bring up memories of my grandma’s vegetable garden, including her greenhouse. In retrospect, I guess everything was greener, more lush and tasted better, but those tomatoes must have had a lasting impression on me. Since discovering the tiny cocktail tomatoes, I basically ignore today’s regular ones. Well, probably with a few exceptions, but I never enjoy regular ones as much as my loved little friends. On a side note: With these there is no need to cut out the stems, which always meant additional work with regular tomatoes (firstly because those parts don’t taste good, secondly because they contain traces of a poison called Solanine).
One of the more elegant/advanced enhancements to jazz up a sandwich or panino are sun or oven dried tomatoes. However, the ones you can buy are often either TOO expensive, TOO strong in taste or TOO chewy. So why not try to make them myself?
‘Still experimenting with the “right” oven temperature and duration – the good news is, you can’t really screw it up unless you leave them in over night and forget about them the next morning (the aroma in the apartment was great though :) Squeezing Google beforehand didn’t necessarily make things easier, as no two recipes had the same temperatures or durations for roasting/drying the tomatoes. So it was down to us with a pinch of common sense to watch and step in (in case they get too dark and burn). We made those tomatoes about twice a week during last month and always keep a handful in a jar filled with olive oil – they’re that yummy! Always good for a quick panino or simply an out – of – the – glass – straight – into – your – mouth – delight. Hmmmm.
Wash, pad dry and half the cocktail tomatoes. Of course you can also use regular tomatoes, just slice them in quarters (or sixth). Some recipes recommend to discard the seeds, but I don’t see the need to (at least with the smaller tomatoes).
Cover baking sheet or casserole with olive oil and arrange tomatoes cut-side up. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and if you like to, with garlic, dried and/or fresh herbs (like thyme, oregano…).
Dry in the preheated oven at 100 degrees Celsius (210 degrees F) for 4-6 hours. Times and temperature may vary (as indicated) based on your oven, the size of the tomatoes and of course your preference. Just try and find out what works best for you.
Kept in a jar with olive oil they last for days (if not weeks).