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A bountiful harvest of sundried tomatoes prepared in the summer is a welcome treat for harvest time cooking. If you are using sundried tomatoes that have been packed dry, follow these simple steps on how to rehydrate sundried tomatoes, which can give any dish an amazing flavor boost.
If you are not in a hurry, take the sundried tomatoes you plan to cook and place them in a bowl. Soak them completely in boiling water. Set aside and let them plump up for about 30 minutes.
If you want things done quickly, place the sundried tomatoes you intend to cook with in a microwave-safe bowl. Completely cover them with broth or salted water. Microwave the tomatoes in the covered bowl on high for about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the tomatoes continue to absorb the liquid for another 5-10 minutes.
Either way, when the skins of the rehydrated tomatoes can be easily pierced with your knife, remove the tomatoes from the liquid and pat dry to chop or cook whole, according to your recipe. Save the liquid for possible seasoning options as you cook your dish.
Sundried tomatoes that are packed in oil need not be rehydrated as they are often seasoned with additional herbs and spices. All you need to do is to get the amount of sundried tomatoes you need, pat them dry, and carry on with your recipe. You can use the flavorful oil as part of your cooking procedures as well.
Sundried tomatoes capture most of the nutritional values of regular fresh tomatoes while only losing about 80-90% of their moisture. The resulting flavor of the sundried tomato is more intense and it hovers over salty, sweet, and tangy. Because they have been dried, the tomatoes can have a slightly chewy texture as well.
If you are buying sundried tomatoes that have been packed either dry or in oil from your weekend farmers market, strike up a conversation with the producers to find out how they prepared the product. Being friendly with them can reveal some precious information about cleanliness and food safety that can only be beneficial for you and your family.
Cooking with Sundried Tomatoes
If you want to experiment using sundried tomatoes, try out these simple recipes. You can create a variety of dishes from flavored butters to pesto-based pasta sauces to main entrees. Try cooking with a variety of devices like slow cookers and sous vide machines to bring out unique flavor profiles.
Sundried Tomato Pesto
- 1 cup olive oil (Here’s some olive oil dispensers you may like)
- ¼ cup garlic cloves, peeled (Here are some great garlic presses for you!)
- 1 cup sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves or 2 tablespoons dried
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or 1-2 teaspoons dried
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Blitz all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until they come together in a paste-like consistency. Adjust to desired consistency and flavor profiles with oil or seasonings.
When making pesto, experiment with different kinds of oil. You can expand your flavor profile for your pesto with a choice of nut based oils as an alternative to olive oil. Partnering off the pesto with whole wheat pasta or even spiraled vegetables like zucchini will definitely elicit some smiles from your impressed dinner guests.
Adding sundried tomatoes to slow cooked meats can further enhance the texture of the tomatoes as they blend their peculiar sweet-salty-tangy texture to the broth. Try out this easy recipe if you are having some guests over for dinner.
Slow Cooker Pork with Sundried Tomatoes
- 2 lbs pork shoulder chunks
- 1 cup onions, roughly chopped (Here are some great onion choppers for you!)
- ¼ cup garlic cloves, peeled (whole)
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 pieces bay leaf
- ½ cup sundried tomatoes, whole
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Assemble all ingredients inside the crock pot of the slow cooker.
- Turn on the machine and set it to low heat and cook for 8 hours, or cook for 5 hours on high.
- Check the slow cooker from time to time and stir to blend flavors and prevent browning.
Sundried tomatoes are highly versatile. Apart from the pesto and stew recipes presented above, you can reconstitute sundried tomatoes and add them to salads, toppings on your homemade pizza made in a pizza oven, or even use them as a surprise ingredient for a sweet-savory muffin or bread. Just remember to store left-over sundried tomatoes that you have rehydrated covered in olive oil for future use.
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