You say tomato

by Dishing Well with Elizabeth Tigani on July 11, 2012

 Even though I usually prefer strong, robust flavors, sun dried tomatoes have oddly enough never been my thing. For years I kept trying them, wanting so badly to like them because they looked so good, but I gave that up when I discovered semi-dried tomatoes. I was inspired by a recipe in my latest cookbook obsession, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, and a version I had come across in another favorite, Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.  The below recipe is the tweaked hybrid of the two. This recipe is so simple and great to use when you have an over abundance of summer tomatoes, or when you just want a fast way to brighten up your plate! You can also make a batch and store it in a jar in the fridge (it will last longer covered in olive oil) and enjoy it for the next 1-2 weeks.

Semi-Dried Cherry Tomatoes

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp olive oil (or enough to drizzle over all the tomatoes)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (enough to drizzle)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*optional additions-minced garlic, red chili flakes, other herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary etc)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the tomatoes cut-side up. Sprinkle sea salt, and black pepper on top and drizzle oil and vinegar over tomatoes. Pull a few thyme leaves from the sprigs to scatter on top and add the remaining whole sprigs. Roast for about 25 minutes or until semi-cooked but still retaining some moisture.

You can use these tomatoes in a million ways-Adding them to fish with some capers and lemon, on top of pasta, in salads and as a snack on their own are just a few of the ways I love to eat them!


Other fun tomato facts

*When you buy canned tomatoes, always buy them whole. The tomatoes used for the chopped/diced/crushed etc. cans are the “rejects”-  ie the ones that weren’t in good enough shape to sell whole. So buying them whole ensures that you’re getting the cream of the crop, plus they cost the same or are sometimes even cheaper than their pre-cut counterparts.

*Tomatoes are one of the few examples where cooking enhances their nutrient content. Most of the time we get the most bang for our buck eating fruits and veg. raw, but cooking tomatoes actually increases the lycopene content – (lycopene is what makes tomatoes red and is a powerful antioxidant associated with a lowered risk of some types of cancer and heart-disease).

*I’ve written about this before but its worth repeating because I think its so flippin cool – cooking tomatoes (and other acidic foods) in cast iron pans is a great way to get some extra iron in your diet. The acid from the tomatoes is activated by heat and absorbs some iron from the vessel. Conversely, always use parchment or some other lining when cooking tomatoes on aluminum. The same thing happens, except aluminum is not something we want going in to our bodies (though not yet proven, some studies have suggested an association between aluminum and Alzheimers) plus it will make the tomatoes taste bitter.

*Even though tomatoes have lots of healthy nutrients, they are also members of the nightshade family (fruits and vegetables associated with leaching calcium from the body and causing inflammation, particularly osteo-arthritis in the body) so some advise eating them in moderation. I’ve found it pretty difficult to avoid nightshades (being gluten free, potatoes have been my savior!), but another way to minimize the inflammatory effect is to pair them with calcium rich foods – dairy if you eat it, or even better, leafy greens like kale, bok choy and collard greens. Here’s a more extensive list of non-dairy calcium rich foods. More on nightshades here.

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