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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

How to Sun-Dry a Tomato and Other Gourmet Tips

Cooking? Food? Ugh, I'm heartily sick of the stuff. Try someone else.


This has been quite a busy week for this little chef. I had my caterer's hat on, working for a comfortably large news organization that had the misfortune of being based in the Hotel Rossiya for the week.


Tuesday morning found me sipping champagne with my colleagues, feasting on the last of the salmon and dill tarts and sinking with relief on my Election-Headquarters-Plenty-of-Room-If-You-Squash-Up Sofa knowing that the event had finally, finally drawn to a close.


Yes, yes, until the next round, I know, but that is long off. Two weeks at least. Long enough for me to get the feeling back in my arms (420 portions of lasagna, chicken curry, corn and bacon risotto, onion and cheese and salmon and dill tarts tend to weigh one down) and time enough for my appetite to bounce back to its normal greedy lusty level.


I have no intention of putting my hands around a knife or a tomato or a garlic clove or anything else this weekend bar a big gin and tonic and the octopus and bean salad at Pomodoro tonight. So don't even think of asking me to cook.


You can ask me for recipes, however. Clever things to do when 50 people come to dinner are my faves at the moment. Those I am happy to share. Try last Thursday's sun-dried tomato and mint pasta salad for instance. A dead simple pasta salad with a bit of zing. Most of you know this in its basil as a herb form, but basil I had not, so I used every other herb at the market, and discovered the serendipitous combination of dill and mint.


Can't find sun-dried tomatoes? Make them yourself. After all what else have you to do for the next few weeks but gnaw your nails and pontificate the prospects of a potentially powerful purge appearing in the Politburo?





Sun-Dried Tomatoes


1 kilogram small ripe tomatoes


1 tablespoon salt


Olive oil


Garlic





Choose the smallest tomatoes you can find, preferably plum tomatoes. You don't want large juicy tomatoes that will yield too much juice. Slice the tomatoes lengthwise. Place them on an oiled baking tray so they fit snugly and cook them on the lowest possible temperature in the oven (100 degrees Celsius) for about five to eight hours. The tomatoes should dry out but not become too chewy. If you trust your oven, leave them overnight.


Once you feel they are cooked, remove them from the oven, allow them to cool and then store them in a container covered with olive oil and thin slivers of garlic. They will keep for about two weeks if well covered with oil and stored in the fridge.


From here you are just a few ingredients away from a simple and tasty pasta salad that can feed and placate a hungry hoard.


This recipe serves six as a salad: double, triple, quadruple at will. If you make the pasta ahead of time, make sure it is well tossed in olive oil before you refrigerate. And don't hesitate to add more oil before mixing the rest of the ingredients to keep the pasta from clumping.


If you find sun-dried tomatoes that are the consistency of shoe leather or steak from thestolovaya reconstitute them in a little boiling water first. But don't forget to add the liquid into the pasta as well because the tomatoes give off plenty of juice.





Sun-Dried Tomato and Mint Pasta Salad


1 kilogram fusilli or pasta shells, cooked


1/2 cup good olive oil


1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced


3 large fresh tomatoes, diced


1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped


1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped


1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Extra olive oil


Salt and pepper





In a large bowl place the cooked pasta and the diced sun-dried tomatoes, mix well. Add the diced fresh tomatoes and the herbs and toss well. Pour over extra olive oil and plenty of cracked black pepper and a little salt and mix well. To serve, keep it at room temperature or heat a little to release the tomato flavor.