Concentrated flavour

In the real world, where time is long and wages are low, sun-dried tomatoes are a cheerful way to deal with a tomato glut.

For the contemporary cook who wants to get something good onto the table, the general taste effect of sun-dried tomatoes can be easily manufactured in your own kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Check the tomatoes and reject those that are bruised or damaged. Wash them and cut them in half. If you are stuck with large tomatoes, quarters are the way to go.

Wash the fresh basil leaves then shake off excess moisture. Rip into quarters (this is regarded as classy cooking style) or alternatively coarsely chop them with a sharp knife. Crush, peel and mince the garlic cloves.

In a mixing bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, basil leaves and the finely minced garlic. Mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Arrange the halved or quartered tomatoes on a baking or roasting oven tray, then pour the mixture over them. Take care that all surfaces are drenched in the mixture. Place in the preheated oven and let the tomatoes slowly roast until they are truly soft. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the roasted tomatoes to cool.

Success!
What we now have is a batch of oven-roasted tomatoes, each one exploding with flavour and aroma. At this point you have two choices. Either consume them at once or bottle them for later. If you plan to bottle them, ensure that the containers and their lids are sterilised to destroy any alien yeasts and molds that may be hanging about. Fill to the top and refrigerate.

So how do we eat these marvellous things?
As a powerful tomato sauce they make a stand-alone contribution to a quick and easy pasta meal. Either serve them whole as shown, or chop coarsely and stir them into the pasta before serving. If you’re going the luxury route a couple of rounds of feta, crumbled over the pasta and oven-dried tomatoes, makes a blissful contribution to your status as a fine cook and outstanding host. And as an afterthought, just imagine what this would add to freshly braaied boerewors.

NOT QUITE SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

The tomato is undoubtedly one of the great gifts from the Garden of Eden. There are few Italian, African and Indian dishes that ignore this marvellous agent of taste, colour and aroma. Raw or cooked, the tomato is a staple of the beginner cook’s list of ingredients. But sometimes the cook needs more tomato than the standard item can supply. Enter the oven-dried tomato, a masterpiece of flavour concentration with as many applications as you care to invent.

‘Either consume them at once or bottle them for later.

To make oven-dried tomato served as a pasta dish, you will need:

500g ribbon pasta
1kg medium tomatoes
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1,5 teaspoons of coarse salt
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic
0,5 teaspoon brown sugar