Let me begin with a disclaimer. I do not dry my own tomatoes. Maybe someday, but not at the moment. This is all about how you can take your basic, already-dried tomatoes and turn them into your next antipasti tray must-have.
This is more of a method than a recipe. And I can’t take credit for it. The credit goes to my daughter-in-law Maria’s mom, Rosaria. Shortly after we met Maria’s family, we were headed up to Maine, to visit my brother and his family …and to enjoy some lobster, of course. That story is for another time.
Since Maria lived with her family in North Jersey, we stopped by to pick her up on the way. When we arrived, her mom wanted to feed us. Like any welcoming mom would do. Especially the generous Italian variety. Lunch? No thank you, really, we couldn’t. We’d had a late breakfast. We finally agreed to a snack. And maybe a cup of coffee.
Within a matter of minutes, we were offered the most amazing spread of “snacks.” With a summer breeze floating through the kitchen and the display of food in front of us, we felt as though we were seated at an outdoor Tuscan cafe. Crusty bread, fresh creamy mozzarella, thinly sliced prosciutto, marinated artichoke hearts and the most delicious sun-dried tomatoes ever. I became obsessed with them. For the longest time, I’d ask Rosaria for the recipe, she would say it’s not really a recipe …”I just make them.” She’d tell me not to worry …she would just make them for me. And she did. Many times. Too many to count. It took quite a few requests, but finally …Rosaria came up with a “recipe.”
So, here we are, more than ten years later. Rosaria and I have shared many wonderful family moments. We enjoy our “cooking chats” and I’ve learned quite a bit from her. But here’s the best part …I no longer refer to her as my daughter-in-law’s mom. I now refer to her as my good friend.
I hope to share more of Rosaria’s recipes with you. But, for now, let’s talk about tomatoes.
This may seem like a lot of tomatoes. You’re wondering what you’ll do with all of them. Really, once your family and friends get a load of these, you won’t have a problem unloading them. When I make them, I always choose some smaller jars so I can share them with my favorite people. On the other hand, you can always halve the recipe. But no matter how many you make, don’t skip the step where you soak the tomatoes in vinegar. The process softens and tenderizes them.
While the tomatoes are soaking, get to work chopping. Set up your work station. Once the tomatoes are drained, filling your storage jars is a snap.
These gems are delicious served caprese style, as pictured. But, it doesn’t end there. Try them on a pizza, toss some in your next salad, mix a handful in with your pasta. And be sure to use that oil they’ve been soaking in. It’s like liquid gold. Perfect for dipping. You get the idea. Store your tomatoes in an airtight container, in a cool dark spot. No need to refrigerate. Best if used within two weeks.
the best sun-dried tomatoes
Compliments of Rosaria Loiacono
- 2 pounds sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 3 cups red wine vinegar (may need more)
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 ounces capers, drained
- 2 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Place sun-dried tomatoes in a large glass bowl. Pour wine vinegar over tomatoes to cover. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Gather storage jars to hold a combined total of 2 quarts. Starting with a generous foundation of tomatoes, sprinkle with parsley, garlic and capers. Continue to layer until jar is full, applying gentle pressure periodically to remove air spaces.
Slowly, add olive oil to jar to cover all ingredients. Cover jar with lid and store in a cool dark location. Refrigeration not required. Best if used within 2 weeks.