Sun-dried tomatoes are ripe tomatoes that are placed in the sun to remove most of the water content from the tomatoes. Cherry types of tomatoes will lose 88% of their initial (fresh) weight, while larger tomatoes can lose up to 93% during the process. As a result, it takes anywhere from 17 to 20 lbs of fresh tomatoes to make a single pound of sun-dried tomatoes.

Even after the procedure, the tomato fruits keep their nutritional value. The tomatoes are high in lycopene, antioxidants, and vitamin C, and low in sodium, fat, and calories.

sun dried tomatoes commercial production

Before modern canning methods were available, Italians dried tomatoes on their tile roofs for use in winter when fresh tomatoes were not an option. Nowadays, sun-dried tomatoes (pomodori secchiin Italian) are not as popular in Italy as they are in America, where they are mostly relegated to antipasto or as a flavor-booster for sauce. These dried, concentrated and flavorful tomatoes have enjoyed a popularity boost in the United States in the past couple of decades, initially as a gourmet item but fast becoming a favorite of home cooks.

Sun-dried tomato tips

Sun-dried tomatoes can be used in a wide variety of recipes and come in a variety of shapes and colors. Traditionally, they were made from dried red plum tomatoes, but they can be purchased in yellow varieties as well. Sun-dried tomatoes may also be preserved in olive oil, along with other ingredients such as rosemary, basil, dried paprika, and garlic.

Unless they are already packed in oil, sun-dried tomatoes will need to be reconstituted before use. Just let them soak in warm water for thirty minutes until soft and pliable, drain (reserve the liquid to add flavor to stocks and sauces), pat dry and use as directed in your recipe. You can also use wine, broth, or other cooking liquid to reconstitute. Once reconstituted, use them within several days or pack in olive oil and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  To reconstitute in oil, simply cover the dried tomatoes with oil and refrigerate for 24 hours.

To use oil-packed, drain tomatoes from oil and use. Always be sure that those left in the jar are completely covered with oil, which may mean adding more oil as you use the tomatoes. Don’t toss out that oil when you’re done with the tomatoes. It will pick up flavor from the tomatoes and be great in salad dressings or used for sauteing.

Cooking with sun-dried tomatoes

The flavor of sun-dried tomatoes is quite intense, concentrated, and slightly salty, so a little goes a long way. Although they are wonderful with pasta, you’ll enjoy using sun-dried tomatoes with many other foods, including vegetables, meats, and breads. Unopened commercially dried tomatoes will be fine without refrigeration for six to nine months. Once opened, oil-packed dried tomatoes should be refrigerated and used within two weeks. They can also be frozen.

Sun-Dried-Tomato Vinaigrette

Yield: 1½ cups
This vinaigrette is rich and sweet from the sun-dried tomatoes, so you don’t need to use much of it on salad greens
To use it as a pesto sauce and/or to add it to a pasta dish, omit the vinegar, thin it down with pasta water, and add pine nuts, sautéed zucchini, and chopped fresh basil.

  • 12 oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients but the olive oil into the bowl of a food processor (or a blender) fitted with a metal blade, and purée to a thick paste.
Continuing to run the machine, add the oil slowly through the feed tube or the lid of the blender. Taste for salt.

Breakfast

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cups egg substitute
  • 8 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 425°F. Coat 4 small baking dishes with cooking spray. Set aside. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook shallot until soft but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Lightly whisk eggs and egg substitute in a bowl. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, basil, spinach mixture, salt and pepper. Spoon into baking dishes; bake until firm in the center, 12 to 14 minutes

 Lunch


Turkey, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Wraps

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, low-fat whipped
  • 2 tablespoons jarred julienned sun-dried tomatoes or 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 large whole wheat flour tortilla
  • 3/4 pound sliced smoked turkey breast
  • 4 lettuce leaves, green leaf, Bibb or Romaine, shredded

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
2. Lay the tortillas out and spread 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on each of them. Divide the turkey among the tortillas and spread the remaining cream cheese mixture on top of the turkey. Divide the shredded lettuce among the tortillas and tightly roll each tortilla into a cylinder, ending with the seam side down.(The wraps can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)
3. Cut the wraps in half on the diagonal and serve. 4 servings.

Garlic Shrimp with Sun-Dried Tomatoes - Gambas al Ajillo con Tomates

Shrimp With Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or jarred sun-dried tomato oil
  • Several sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained if necessary
  • 1/2 cup fish stock or dry white wine
  • 16 to 24 large shrimp, peeled
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped fresh basil.

Put oil in a large, oven proof skillet over medium heat and add thyme, garlic, tomatoes and capers. Cook just until mixture sizzles, then add stock or wine; raise heat and bring to a boil. Cook for about a minute, then add shrimp, turning them in sauce. Cook just until they turn pink. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, garnish with basil, and serve hot or warm with Italian bread.

Dinner

 

Italian Pork Tenderloin

4 Servings

  • 1.5 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Olive oil for brushing meat; salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard, or mustard of choice

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a baking dish just large enough to fit the pork tenderloin. Make the stuffing. Put the oil, sage, prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor. Pulse this mixture a few times until it is combined to a thick paste.

Cut a slit through the middle of your pork, but don’t go through to the bottom and with your hands, spread the stuffing onto the center of the meat. Close the pocket.
Tie together with kitchen twine to secure. Rub the tenderloin with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.

Place meat in prepared baking dish. Roast the pork at 450 degrees F.  for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. and cook another 30 minutes. Pork should be 160 degrees when done. Let the meat rest  for 5 minutes so the juices can distribute evenly before slicing. Remove the string.

To make a simple pan sauce, use the drippings in the pan and whisk in a tablespoon of honey mustard. There won’t be a lot of sauce, but enough to drizzle over the pork slices.

    

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Sun Dried Tomatoes and White Beans

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 12 pieces), sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed or 2 cups cooked dried beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water and drain pasta thoroughly.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over high heat, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add half the broccoli rabe and sauté until lightly wilted but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add remaining broccoli rabe to pan and cook for another minute or two. Add sun-dried tomatoes and cannellini beans and toss lightly. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add hot drained pasta to the pan (or to a larger bowl if needed) and toss with the vegetables. Stir and add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water if mixture seems dry. Season and taste again. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo

Fish fillets may also be substituted in place of chicken. Serve with sautéed fresh spinach.
4 servings

  • 8 ounces orzo, preferably whole-grain
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes,oil-packed, divided
  • 2 clove garlic, peeled
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram or oregano, divided
  • 2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sun-dried tomato oil, (reserved from sun-dried tomato jar )
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1- 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Pecorino-Romano cheese, divided
  1. Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, place  water, 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, 2 teaspoons marjoram, vinegar and  sun-dried tomato oil in a blender. Blend until just a few chunks remain.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until golden outside and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
  4. Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Measure out 1/2 cup sauce to a small bowl. Add the remaining sun-dried tomatoes to the pan along with the orzo, artichoke hearts and 6 tablespoons cheese. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among 4 plates.
  5. Slice the chicken. Top each portion of orzo with sliced chicken, 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and marjoram.


Sun Ripened Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

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