Appetizers

Crostini with Oven Dried Tomatoes

Recipe courtesy of Chef John Ash

Ingredients
  • 6 medium Roma or plum type tomatoes
  • 6 large unpeeled garlic cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices of rustic bread, preferably baguette
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped olives such as Nicoise, Kalamata or Cerignola
  • 2 Tbsp. mixed chopped herbs such as parsley, chives and mint

Directions

  1. Ready the tomatoes for the oven using the directions below. Toss the garlic cloves with California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil to coat and arrange both the tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet and dry in a 275-degree oven for 2–3 hours. Cool.
  2. Liberally brush bread with California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil and toast in an 375 degree oven for a few minutes or under a broiler for a minute or so, browning on both sides. Squeeze the garlic from its skins and mash to a paste along with any juices from the tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  3. Spread garlic mixture on the toasts, sprinkle olives over and top each with a tomato, cut side up. Sprinkle herbs over along with a little California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

 

Making Oven Dried Tomatoes

Most of the time nowadays the tomatoes in the market are pretty awful. Bright red yes but hard, mealy and flavorless is what we often encounter. In order to make them usable, one of my favorite techniques is to slow oven dry them. It’s a very simple technique and I will usually do 3–5 pounds at a time and then store them in the refrigerator for use in salads, with pasta, rice or just about anywhere that tomatoes are called for.

I generally use Roma type tomatoes because they are a little “meatier”. All you have to do is cut them in half lengthwise, remove the stem and with your fingers gently push and squeeze out the seeds. Now place them cut side up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place them in a preheated 250 degree oven for 2–3 hours or until they are somewhat shriveled and softened. That’s it!

If you have a gas oven with a pilot light you don’t even need to turn the oven on. Simply place prepped tomatoes in the oven and leave them overnight. The gentle heat of the pilot light is enough to do the job. I store them in a big old lidded jar covered with more olive oil for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Time Level Yield
4 hours Moderate 6 servings

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