Oven-dried cherry tomatoes are an absolute must use "secret ingredient" in any cooks repertoire. They pack a serious flavour punch and in many cases liven up boring dishes that seem to miss something.
These little semi-dried tomatoes have an intense sweet tomato umami taste, which makes them perfect little flavour bombs and a magic bullet ingredient few cooks know about.
What is it
The great news is that it takes less than an hour to be ready and there is almost no prep time involved.
Some of you might have made one version or another of semi-dried cherry tomatoes, marinated oven-dried cherry tomatoes or cured cherry tomatoes. The process is very much the same for all, although most recipes call for the cook to half the tomatoes.
This is where we are doing things differently.
What makes this recipe better
We will briefly blanch the cherry tomatoes and quickly remove the tough skin before marinating them and gently curing in the oven.
It’s for that exact reason this oven-dried cherry tomatoes recipe is the best one out there. We keep ours whole. Saving all the flavour inside which intensifies as the tomatoes slowly dry in the oven.
By cutting tomatoes in half we lose precious juice and the flavour aromas literally evaporate out of them. We try and eliminate that effect as much as possible.
Although these oven-dried cherry tomatoes are best as a seasonal summer treat. They can be prepared and used all year-round as a healthy, tasty addition to your favourite dishes.
It’s a delicious salad topping, vibrant addition to homemade pasta and easy addition to your favourite antipasti dishes. No matter lunch, dinner, an appetiser or summer BBQ.
You will easily find a place at the table for this remarkable little homemade flavour booster.
So, if you love traditional sun-dried tomatoes, try drying cherry tomatoes in your oven instead.
The result is intensely flavoured little round flavour bombs that can be used as a pizza or salad topping or in the same manner as standard sun-dried tomatoes.
Just a million times better.
Why are these better than sundried tomatoes
We have briefly touched on that in the previous chapter. Sundried tomatoes are cut in half exposing the inside to the open air. This makes them dry out faster but also result in them losing fragile flavour compounds through evaporation.
Sundried tomatoes lose about 90% of their weight through evaporation. This leaves you with an intense but not fresh and balanced product. I can taste sundried tomatoes in most dishes people sneak them into.
They have a very distinct flavour and although sometimes it’s ok most of the time I am simply left thinking. Why the F&CK mess up a dish like that?
The only thing you want from a sundried tomato is the umami and the tartness. Not that distant sad memory of what a tomato once was. So we have a problem. We want the best of both worlds, and it’s totally possible.
How to get the best of both worlds
With oven-dried cherry tomatoes, you start off with a smaller, more intensely sweet and flavour-packed fruit. Yes, tomatoes are fruits(Fact of the day if you didn’t know it already).
With sundried tomatoes, most of the time the initial product is terrible and also much bigger which means less flavour.
That means that with cherry tomatoes we use a smaller fruit that goes from point A to B much faster. First, win. Time is money last time I checked. Secondly, it packs way more flavour into much less space.
Add that to the fact that we keep our cherry tomatoes whole and we are on to a winning solution.
Bitesize, burst-in-the-mouth, intensely sweet, perfectly tart umami bombs with the original fresh tomato flavour still intact.
OVEN DRIED CHERRY TOMATOES 1 – 0 SUNDRIED TOMATOES
- Salt – Natural fine sea salt
- Oil – Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Spices – Black pepper
- Herbs(optional) – Fresh/Dried thyme
- Icing sugar(optional) – Any plain powdered sugar will work.
Vanilla and tomato is a great combination and for specific purposes like when served in a tomato consommé, it will be a dinner party show stopper.
To make it with vanilla add a bit of fresh vanilla to the oil or use naturally flavoured vanilla sugar.
An easy way to make vanilla sugar is to store used vanilla pods in the actual sugar to let it infuse over a few days or weeks. It keeps indefinitely when stored correctly. Sealed airtight.
How to make it
1st Step – Blanching the tomatoes
- Bring a pot of water to the boil.
- Blanch cherry tomatoes for 5-10 seconds by submerging into boiling water and immediately plunging into ice-cold water.
- Gently remove the skins.
2nd Step – Marinating the tomatoes
- Prepare an oven tray with a sheet of baking parchment.
- Lay the tomatoes on the sheet.
- Sprinkle with salt, oil, sugar(optional), freshly ground black pepper(optional).
3rd Step - Oven drying the tomatoes
- Place into oven and check after 40 minutes on the progress.
- The exact time will depend on your oven and the size of cherry tomatoes.
- When done they should be slightly shrivelled up but not too dry.
You can easily modify this recipes by doing the following:
- Salt – You could use smoked salt or another flavoured salt here.
- Spices – Try with paprika, chilli flakes or a small touch of clove.
- Herbs – Finely chopped rosemary or organum are great substitutes for thyme. Also, try dried basil and mint.
- Oil – I find it best sticking to a good extra virgin olive oil with some nice green grassy notes. With that said, Extra virgin rapeseed oil also works a treat.
- Pasta – Add these to almost any pasta dish for a wonderful burst of flavour. This tomato & mozzarella pasta uses cherry tomatoes. Throw in a few of these oven-dried cherry tomatoes just before serving for an extra tomato hit.
- Salad - Add to this easy salmon salad for a touch of sweetness. Use in combination with fresh tomatoes in Greek salad or add an extra layer of flavour to Caesar salad or roasted pumpkin salad.
- Meat – Served on top of this steak or this crispy pork belly cooked over the fire.
- Anti Pasti - Great by themselves or serve with this roasted Romano peppers. If you like your mind blown add onto these parmesan biscuits!
- Bruschetta – Chuck a few onto this hangover cure sandwich or make an out of this world simple snack by toasting a slice of sourdough bread, spreading some ricotta and piling up some of these tomatoes with a bit of olive oil.
- Pizza - Use instead of sundried tomatoes or just add it when the pizza comes out of the oven.
- Breakfast – Add to this Thai omelette, use in simple baked eggs or with dishes like frittata or quiche.
Frequently asked questions
Once prepared and cooled down, store in an airtight container in the fridge.
These cherry tomatoes keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days store airtight. You could store them in oil for a few weeks. I recommend making them fresh though. It’s so simple and quick and the flavour is remarkable when used on the day you prepared them.
Freezing is not recommended as the freezing process will negatively effect the delicate structure of the tomato. However, if you plan on using them in stews or soups and do not need them to hold their shape, then go ahead and freeze airtight for up to 6 months.
Useful equipment for this recipe
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