Oven Dried Roasted Tomatoes

I bought a case of organic, Roma tomatoes from the Collingswood Farmers' Market last weekend, and I'm in the midst of canning and roasting all sorts of tomato goodness.  One quick and easy idea I do every year is to make oven-roasted tomatoes, so that I can utilize the over-abundance of tomatoes that one usually has on hand this time of year.  Slow oven roasting brings out a sweetness in the tomatoes (helped along with a pinch of sugar in my seasoning mixture) that renders these jewels into a candy-like treat.  This is a very simple recipe that uses few ingredients but requires a bit of time to finish.  Read on for a step by step tutorial and by all means, pick those tomatoes out of your garden and start making this immediately!  You can use Cherry and Grape tomatoes too, though you want to roast them for a much shorter amount of time.  

1. Clean the tomatoes, and discard any that are too soft or are sporting bad/rotten spots.  Cut the tops off of the plum or Roma Tomatoes, then using the back of a soup, scoop out the seeds and core of the tomatoes.   I used about 3 dozen tomatoes for this batch.

 2. Discard the seeds, tops and cores or better yet, toss into your compost bin!
  
3. Preheat your oven to 250 to 275 Degrees Fahrenheit
 
4. Use a sheet tray, lined with either a Silpat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil (lightly sprayed with cooking spray) and lay out the tomato halves, cut sides up onto the tray, with a bit of space in between.
5. In a small bowl, mix together your seasonings of choice.  I used a combination of a Teaspoon of each Dried Italian/Mediterranean Seasonings such as Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Tarragon, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, Minced Garlic and Onions, Freshly Ground Black Pepper; A Tablespoon of Sugar and A Tablespoon of Kosher Salt.  Mix together to blend well.  The Salt is essential to drying these out and drawing out the water.  I like the sugar because it brings out the tomato sweetness.

6. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over all the tomato halves, making sure to get enough into each tomato cavity.  Place into the preheated oven, set to a low temperature of 250 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and bake/roast low and slow for 3 to 4 hours, checking from time to time, making sure the tomatoes don't over-dry. 

7. Medium/Large Roma Tomatoes will take at least 4 hours to oven dry; Grape and Cherry Tomatoes will dry out in about 2 to 3 hours.  Tomatoes are done when they are curled in on themselves, and are dry but not crisp.  If they are too moist, continue to oven dry for about another hour, but lower the oven temperature down to 250 degrees. 

8. To store, lay flat in a container, and place a layer of parchment or plastic wrap in-between layers.  Keep refrigerated and use within 2 weeks.  These will keep frozen for up to 3 to 4 months.  They taste delicious just as they are and will be wonderful in a salad.  Perfect on pizza, great with pasta or as a topping for grilled chicken. 

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