Monday, February 15, 2010

Roasted Garlic & "Sun Dried" Tomatoes

Ok, I know these two things aren't technically recipes, but they both do require some planning and both have a process required to reach the final tasty result so in a way they are recipes and I can count them towards my totals.  I have never made either one but have seen plenty a cooking show on how truly easy and cost effective they are to make. 

First up, Roasted Garlic.  Honestly there are very few savory recipes that don't benefit from garlic in some form being added.  I was first introduced to roasted garlic on a trip to McCall about five years ago.  I ordered a pasta dish that allowed the eater, (me), to top it with what ever I wished.  As I scanned the long list of options my eye was caught by roasted garlic, something I had heard of but nothing I had ever tasted.  Add some alfredo sauce, grilled chicken and brocoli and I had a delicious meal.  I remember being surprised at how it didn't taste like raw garlic at all.  Roasted garlic is creamy, sweet, and mellow. 

Now, onto Sun Dried Tomatoes.  The candy of tomatoes.  You can find them packaged in the store either dry or packed in oil.  I prefer them packed in oil with lots of herbs and garlic, the price can be very high though and this is an item that rarely goes on sale.  Everything I have added these little gems to has benefited from the sweet flavor they impart.  Thanks to my friend Kathy, who recently gave me a food dehydrator I can dry large amounts of tomatoes in very little time!

Roasted Garlic

Take one whole head of garlic.  Cut enough of the top off to expose the top of the individual cloves.  Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil on top.  Wrap in aluminum foil.  Bake in an oven at 400 until soft and carmelized about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool, then squeeze to release all the delicious cloves.  This ends up being like paste that can be smeared on toasted bread, added to pastas, or combined into any recipe that you want garlic in. 

Total Cost .25

Sun Dried Tomatoes

I was very lucky to find Roma tomatoes sale when I went grocery shopping Saturday.  This summer when my tomato plants are producing more fruit than I can keep up with, I will be making these to have during the winter months.

Roma Tomatoes
Italian seasonings (I used a little basil and oregano)

Cut tomatoes in half.  Squeeze over the sink to get the seeds out.  Cut as desired.  I reccomend halves or quarters.  Place on food dehydrator, sprinkle with herbs, dry according to the food dehydrator directions until pliable, but not full of moisture.  Mine took about 5 hours.

I have also seen recipes that can be done in the oven.  This requires more attention but if you want to do them this way it works very well.  Place cut tomatoes on cookie sheets at the lowest heat setting for 8-12 hours.  You will have to turn these every few hours in order for all sides of the tomatoes to be exposed to the dry heat.

Pack into jars with olive oil, or package in freezer bags and freeze.

**Remember that the final product will be substantially less than you started with.  I used six large Roma tomatoes and end up with about 1 cup of dried tomatoes.**

Total Cost $1.25 verses, $4.99 for about the same amount if I purchased a jar of dried tomatoes.
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