the first time i tasted sun-dried tomato was via dome cafe's excellent vegetarian sandwich. a host of veggies aside, 2 items stand out in taste and texture - the saltish feta cheese and the flavourful sun-dried tomatoes. the latter also stands out due to its chewier texture, unlike the rest of the veggies.
the thing about sun-dried tomatoes is the strong burst of flavour as you bite into it. it's yummy! makes sense as the process of dehydration results in a very condensed "tomato essence", if you could call it so.
unfortunately i haven't tried sun-dried tomatoes in any of my bread as the cost is too prohibitive! a 100gm pack goes for rm10 upwards. if soaked in oil, be prepared to pay more!
but how difficult can it be to make your own?
well, thanks to tony, who also uses sun-dried tomatoes in his pizza, i finally learned how to do so. later i checked on the net and there's lots of articles on how to do your own too.
this is really easy. whichever variety of tomatoes you choose, just cut it up into pieces then sun bath them! needless to say, the smaller the pieces, the easier the "drying" process but too small, it's not fun to bite. for the first experiment, i used small cherry tomatoes and cut into quarters. will try with bigger varieties next time.
line them up on a baking tray and off it goes in the sun!
if you are in malaysia or been to malaysia lately, you'll know the sun is so unforgiving these days. whenever you go outdoors, it's like walking into a giant oven! despite this, 2 days in the hot sun (sat and sun), yet the tomatoes aren't dried enough. so how dry is dry? some folks on the net advise "the tomatoes should loke like dry shriveled prunes". dang! that's what i look like in the morning after a night of drinking!
then i thought of this. why not have them "baked" in the car? if you park outdoors, you know how hot the interior of the car can get, especially under our hot blaze here.
so that's what i did!
arranged them on a baking tray, placed nicely on the dashboard, 3 hours later on a monday morning and they are ready! [you could also use your oven, but we have an abundance of sunshine here, so...]
other than successfully drying up your tomatoes, you gain another benefit here. your car now smells good! a natural car refreshener! though this didn't last more than 2 days but only gives you another reason to do so again.
so what's the next process? depends on what/how you want to use the tomatoes. i soaked them in olive oil with some oregano and basil. tony suggested some birdeye chillies, hee hee, he's more malaysian than us.
subject this tomato-in-oil to another day in the sun and you are ready to use it!
you could eat it on its own, use with salads, pizza, bread and so on...
guess what i did? i baked bread with it of course!