Drying the tomatoes in this way intensifies their flavour and really highlights their natural sweetness. Once made, these tomatoes can be used in a number of ways; scattered on salads or pizzas, roughly chopped up in sauces - the possibilities are endless. I regularly make preserved tomato bread rolls as one in a selection of flavoured breads if I am hosting a dinner party or other occasion which I have to cater for. They always go down a treat and people invariable ask for the recipe (which I will post in the near future).
I love homemade tomato soup using fresh tomatoes, but I find that the addition of a few preserved tomatoes before puréeing the soup really adds something extra in terms of the finished flavour of the soup.
The long slow cooking dries out the tomatoes leaving them slightly chewy, with a little moisture still remaining. If you cook them for too long they will become hard, brittle and a little bitter to taste - this is obviously not what you are trying to achieve, so I would advise checking them for the last half hour of the allotted cooking time, just in case they are ready sooner than expected.
The point that I want to get across is that these tomatoes are incredibly delicious but are also an extremely versatile ingredient with a myriad of uses in so many other dishes, so when tomatoes are in season, are abundant and cheap, have a go at making a few jars.
Ingredients:100ml olive oil, plus extra to cover them if being kept
8 garlic cloves
500g cherry tomatoes
2tsp icing sugar
A few sprigs of thyme
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Method:1. Preheat the oven to 110C/Fan oven 90-100C/Gas Mark ½.
2. Put the oil and garlic in a small oven proof bowl and place in the oven for 20 minutes to allow the garlic to infuse into the oil.
3. Meanwhile slice the tomatoes in half across their middle. Gently squeeze each halved tomato to remove some of the seeds and then place the tomatoes in a single layer, cut side uppermost in the baking dish (approximately 20cm x 30cm). Pour over the infused olive oil, discarding the garlic and ensuring that the tomatoes are well covered in the oil.
4. Sieve the icing sugar evenly over the tomatoes and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tuck the sprigs of thyme around the tomatoes.
5. Place in the pre-heated oven for 2½ hours. You can either serve the tomatoes warm or place them in a jar, discard the thyme and cover with fresh olive oil and refrigerate. They will keep in the fridge covered in oil for up to 6 weeks… if they last that long!
Makes 1 small jar.