Some friends emailed me for those sun dried tomatoes recipe,
so I'll share my "secrets" with you.
Everything I know, regarding Italian cooking, comes from my sweet Mother-In-Law, Chiara, whom everyone named "La Nonna" (the grandmother).
La Nonna was a very simple woman from Southern Italy, mother of 6, and a genius, creative cooker who was aiming to feed her family with few money, but LOTS of taste.
As a young bride (37 years ago) I spent hours in her kitchen and have learned so much, from the basic ingredients, to her mantra :
"You need to cook joyfully and add a pinch of your heart !"
I consider as an honour to pass on what she taught me, from the basics, to comfort food and preserving, and I'm totally convinced that good cooking is part of happy family gatherings, and even a happy marriage !
Thinking about all this, I might consider creating a special file on my sidebar, under the label :
"Ricette della Nonna"
...what do you think ?
SUN DRIED TOMATOES
For approx. 4 x one pound jars
(you don't want to waste your time for one small jar only, do you ?)
Note : I prefer those smaller jars rather than big ones, as I will open them frequently, and also because the bottom would taste too hot in the end...
You will need :
1 liter (33 Fl.oz) good quality olive oil
1 liter (33 Fl.oz) white balsamic vinegar
(this is part of the secret : white balsamic vinegar will give that sweet taste, much less acid than with ordinary white vinegar. A little more expensive, but you won't regret it).
3 big garlic heads
(what would be Italian cooking without garlic ?)
A nice big parsley bouquet
1 kg (2.2 pounds) SUN dried tomatoes
(please don't use those oven dried tomatoes - there's a world difference in taste)
Your tomatoes will look like this : totally dehydrated and shrinked...
You will also need some small red hot chili peppers
finely chopped (don't touch your eyes with your fingers !)
How to :
1. You need to re-hydrate your tomatoes ---> put them in a big plate, and add the white balsamic vinegar. Let them "rest" for approx. 45 minutes, stirring from time to time (use your hand ! They're the best cooking tools, besides white vinegar will give you beautiful hands)...
2. Then you'll use your muscles and twist the tomatoes, so that you take off as much vinegar as possible...
3. Sit down, have a cuppa', and start unshrinking/opening each tomato piece. You want to get them nice and flat. Take your time, no rush, have FUN chit-chatting ;>)
4. Your jars are ready on the table (rinsed with boiling water and dried), with the rest of the ingredients (chopped parsley, chopped garlic, chopped hot peppers, olive oil)
5. You will work in layers, like this :
- a) some olive oil + a pinch of parsley + a pinch of garlic + a (small) pinch of red hot pepper
- b) 5 to 6 half tomatoes, gently arranged to cover that a) layer
- and on, and on..... from a) to b).... Pushing on the layers, from time to time (use your hand---> olive oil is sooo good to them)
You also want it to be nice looking, of course, eating begins with the eyes !
- Finish with one nice layer olive oil at the top of the jar.
Then comes the hardest part : you'll have to wait for one whole month, before tasting your "jewels" ! (Have a check during first week : tomatoes will "drink" a lot, and you might need adding some olive oil).
- We like them simple, to accompany Italian cooked meats and bread,
- or chopped and mixed with warm pasta + chopped black olives and parmiggiano (Hmmmmm!)
- Try them on warm roasted bread + cream cheese (to die for!)
- or with mozzarella slices and basil (close your eyes : you're in Italy ;>)
- finely diced and mixed with green crispy salad
- on pizzas,
- as appetizers, rolled around some mozzarella cheese,
Note : when your jar is empty, don't throw away that precious perfumed oil ---> use it on your pizzas, or in salads, or even on hot pasta + ruccola and cheese...