USING THE HARVEST: Semi-Dried Tomatoes, Tomato Paste & Superpower Green Sauce

Semi-Dried Tomatoes & Homemade Tomato Paste

For best results I recommend sourcing Roma tomatoes for drying as they are naturally low in moisture. Halved cherry tomatoes can also be dried this way with great success.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours

Ingredients

  • About 1kg Roma or cherry tomatoes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for storing
  • Sprig of oregano or thyme

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 70 degrees Celsius on fan bake.
  • Halve the tomatoes and arrange cut side up in a single layer on a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Place the tray in the middle of the oven. I like to wedge a spoon in the door to keep it ajar by one to two centimetres for air circulation.
  • I think of this method as a make-shift dehydrator (which, obviously you could use if you have one, set to 55°C), although running a little hotter for added caramelisation.
  • Leave the tomatoes to dry for 8-12 hours – I do this overnight. The total time will depend on the tomato size and variety, the aim is a somewhat dry tomato with a little bit of give when squeezed – though not soft or they won't keep well.
  • To store, snugly pack the tomatoes into a 300g jar with a sprig of herbs and top up with olive oil. Store in the fridge and consume within one month.

Notes

To make Homemade Tomato Paste, instead of packing in a jar with olive oil, blend the semi-dried tomatoes into a thick paste. Freeze into two-tablespoon portions – a muffin tray works well. Once frozen tip into a free-flow container. To use, remove portions directly from the freezer and drop into hot soups or stews for a rich tomato flavour.

Superpower Green Sauce

A word of caution with the jalapeno peppers, they do vary in heat so start with 1 teaspoon and add extra if you need a little more heat.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

1 bunch basil, about 1 cup packed leaves

1 teaspoon capers, drained

1-3 teaspoons picked jalapeno peppers

Juice of half a lemon, about 3 tablespoons

1-2 garlic cloves, peeled

About ¼  cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients including ¼  cup olive oil into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add extra oil if needed to loosen to a spoonable consistency. Store in a container in the fridge and use within five days – if it lasts that long!


My Poppa prized his tomatoes. His particular favourite was an acid-free variety, sweet and thin-skinned. It was not unusual to find him in this hothouse tending his tomato plants. He would selectively pick the ripe fruit to then set on a tray in the kitchen to sweeten for several days. Breakfast in autumn was always tomato thickly sliced on toast with a flick of salt and grind of pepper.

His pursuit for growing the perfect tomato may have rubbed off on me. For some years I have been selecting tomatoes for particular characteristics. I like a good cooker or two that won’t turn watery in the preserving jar. Money Maker and Roma are my current picks, while my husband has a preference for Beefsteak style – fleshy and boasting flavour. Black Krim and Isle of Capri top the charts this season.

With tomatoes comes its trusty ally, peppery basil. Here’s a sauce I have been making on repeat (using parsley in cooler months), which packs a punch and goes on everything. I am find myself fashioning meals around it just so I can put it on the table. To be sure it wasn’t just me obsessing over this sauce, I served it on three separate occasions recently and, without prompting, this sauce has become the talking point of the meal.

*Recipe first featured 14 March 2018 on Stuff.co.nz

Join the Conversation

  1. Wow – what a beautiful post and super useful recipes. Will definitely be making some of these, thank you. Do you reckon it would work to use fresh jalapenos in the green sauce, plus a bit of vinegar (or even sauerkraut juice)? Have a few to use up. Feel like throwing some tomatoes in the oven tonight but must go to bed instead!!

    1. Hi Nicky, thank-you 🙂 Always lovely to hear from you. I am sure the sauce will work fine with fresh jalapeno, and a little splash of vinegar or sauerkraut juice (excellent thinking!). Enjoy!

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