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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sundried Tomatoes

It's now officially Summer, but here in Arizona we've already been having "summer" for months. My garden is bursting with tomatoes and zucchini and I wanted to share one of my new methods for preserving Summer's harvest. I love sundried tomatoes for adding in to salads and pasta dishes and it's so easy to make your own!

 Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. I have used a Silpat sheet but found that the tomatoes stained it a bit.
 Some of the tomatoes I cut into slices about 1/4" thick.  Another batch I cut into wedges and seasoned with basil.
 Now for the twist! I usually place my sheets of tomatoes in the backyard covered with an old (but clean!) screen to keep the bugs off. This time I placed the tomatoes on the dashboard in my car with the windows all rolled up. My car acted like a giant solar oven! With the temps in the triple digits outside you know things were  plenty hot in the car.
 It took a day and half for the tomatoes to become properly dehydrated, so I picked a couple of days when I didn't have any errands to run or could borrow my husbands car. My friends teased me that I'd be driving around with big sheets of tomatoes on the dashboard! No, not a good idea!
I then packed the tomatoes in clean jars. You can leave them as is and keep them on your pantry shelf for at least 6 months. To reconstitute, soak in hot water for 10 minutes.One batch I covered with olive oil, but those should be kept refrigerated and used within a couple of months.

This is the label I used for the jars, I love the vintage look.
And here is a recipe I created to use those yummy, flavorful, sundried tomatoes.

Under the Tuscan Sun Salad
8 ounces shaped pasta - penne, rotini, shells or farfalle
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes cut into pieces
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 zucchini sliced and grilled
2 scallions sliced
2-3 precooked chicken and basil sausages (I buy the Emeril Lagasse brand at Costco) grilled then sliced
1/2 cup Kraft sundried tomato salad dressing
1/4 cup fresh basil

Boil pasta acording to directions on package and drain. Meanwhile grill or saute zucchini and sausages.Combine everything in large bowl and chill. Toss with basil right before serving. Serves 6.
Feel free to substitute your favorite ingredients such as mushrooms, mozarella balls, grilled chicken, asparagus etc.

Buon Appetito!

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