Dara's Oven-Dried Tomatoes

It's 5:00 in the Rainier Valley.  By 6:00 I have to make an appetizer, get the kids' shoes on (figure 45 minutes for that), drop them off on Capitol Hill, and be at a meeting in Issaquah (effectively across the continent at this point).  Thank God I have leftover olive tapenade from Easter.  I'll just pretty it up a little, find that scarred knob of goat cheese in the back of my fridge, and scrounge for some crackers.  Okay--5:10.  That's done.

EXCEPT that two-year-old Loretta just pulled the bowl of tapenade off the counter, and I now have glass shard tapenade.  I love my friends at the Community Consulting Partnership (CCP) meeting I'm going to, so I can't bring it. Quick--what else?  I have a cantaloupe sitting on the counter.  I cut it up, toss it with some mint, simple syrup, lime juice, and gray sea salt.  It would have been a blog-worthy success story except the cantaloupe is not only unripe--it actually tastes strangely metallic.  Wyatt is still in the living room making a giant art project involving small scraps of paper, and hasn't even gotten his socks on yet.  I yell at him.  And I take the crappy cantaloupe anyway.

One of the side effects of a food-focused life is that people generally expect you to bring edible things to potlucks.  I was flagrantly promoting my food blog to my CCP friends, and Steve said, "What did you bring tonight?"  I mumbled something about being in a hurry and hoped he hadn't put any of my cantaloupe on his plate.

Thankfully, I am not the only one in CCP that is food-focused, and we always share a wonderful meal together as part of our meeting.  The highlight of this month's meal for me was Dara's oven-roasted tomatoes.  Maybe no one noticed how many I ate.  I was downright selfish about it.  I had just had a traumatic hour, after all.

Dara roasted her tomatoes at 150 degrees overnight (8ish hours, I'm assuming?) in the oven, and they were better than candy.  Chewy, oily, a tiny bit firm, speckled with bits of garlic and herbs.  She served them with crackers and chevre, and I couldn't get them out of my mind.  I've made them before, but never with canned tomatoes.  I could wax poetic about canned tomatoes all day, but I'll save that for another posting.  I haven't bought fresh tomatoes in months because they are so anemic this time of year. 

There are so many things you can do with these.  You'll see a pasta recipe here pretty soon.  If they didn't take so long, I'd have them around all the time.  And they bear no relation to those pieces of bark labeled "sun-dried tomatoes" in the store, don't worry.  I roasted mine at 200 degrees for six hours, and they turned out softer than Dara's.  You can also make more of a tomato confit if you do 300 degrees for 2 or 3 hours.  Whichever way you do it, you will want to down the whole tray right there.  And you won't feel like yelling at your kids anymore.

Dara's Oven-Dried Tomatoes

2 28-oz. cans peeled whole roma tomatoes

3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

handful chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary and thyme, which, despite my brown thumb, are from my yard)

2 cloves minced garlic (didn't use garlic in mine this time)

couple big pinches of coarse salt

1 ts. sugar

Drain tomatoes and reserve juice for something else.  Halve the tomatoes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Pour olive oil and sprinkle herbs, garlic, salt, and sugar over them.

Bake at 200 degrees for six hours.  I obsessively check them just because I can't wait to sink my teeth in, but they don't need any monitoring.  As I mentioned, Dara just went to bed.

When they're done, you an keep them in the refrigerator for quite awhile.  I love them room temperature, so I just kept mine in a covered bowl because I knew they wouldn't last more than 24 hours.