Other than being around my family, there is really only one other reason that I miss Western Australia… the glorious weather. Growing up in WA, I didn’t realise that the weather around Australia wasn’t equally as gorgeous. Perhaps, if I had realised this, it is likely I would never have left.
A Perth summer is spectacular, sure it gets hot, but find some shade and its great. It’s consistent – it will be consistently gorgeous for weeks. I hesitate to say it is a dry heat… but it is. Scotty and I often have arguments about the whole “dry heat” thing because the last time he was in Perth it hit 43 degrees Celsius and at that temperature dry heat or not, its bloody unbearable.
The first year I was in Sydney, I was beside myself with heat intolerance in as little as 30 degree heat and I couldn’t understand why I felt so hot! It is that damn Sydney humidity you see. And then, it rained… in Summer! I was incredulous. I thought that perhaps it was just unseasonal, but then it happened every year in Summer and I realised what I had gotten myself into.
But what does this have to do with semi-dried tomatoes?
In January/February at the height of Perth summer each year, the Italian tomato season kicks off and Roma’s are at their all time sweetness. At this time, all Italian families prepare to receive their cases of gorgeous blush red tomatoes for sauce day. For my mother, this is the moment to conjure up her seemingly unending supply of baking trays to lay a plethora of halved Roma tomatoes onto to lay out in the gorgeous Perth sun for a few days until they have shrivelled into gorgeous blood red pieces ready for a stint in olive oil, garlic and basil to be enjoyed as antipasto.
My mother never bought sun dried tomatoes. Why would you when its so easy to make them yourself – and much cheaper.
As a buyer of sun-dried tomatoes, I was recently overcome by a sense of nostalgia seeing some gorgeous Roma’s as my fruit market recently, and I knew I had to take them home and dry them. Firstly, I’m impatient, so there was no way that I was going to wait 3 days to have them, and secondly, Sydney weather just isn’t consistent enough for it to even work.
So, that is where my trusty oven came in. If you can’t sun dry them, the next best thing is to oven dry. And the best thing about it? all you need are fresh Roma tomatoes, a brush of olive oil and a bit of time to let them dry – a lot less time than 3 days.
Below you will find my method for the perfect semi-dried tomatoes.
- Roma tomatoes
- Olive oil
Preheat your oven to a very low temperature (make sure it is below 100° Celsius - I have a "keep warm" setting and I use that).
Cut your roma tomatoes in half lengthways and remove the core of each tomato. Then lay them on lined baking trays cut side up and in one layer. Brush the top of each lightly with olive oil.
Place the trays in the oven and let dry for 3-4 hours till semi-soft to the touch. The smaller tomatoes will be ready more quickly than the others so just remove the halves from the oven when they are done and leave the rest to continue drying.
Once dry, you can eat by rubbing toasted italian bread with garlic and topping with semi-dried tomatoes, or place in a jar tightly packed and cover with olive oil adding a couple of cloves of garlic and a few basil leaves, keeping it in the fridge and eating as you please.