Who can go past sun dried tomatoes? The drying process removes most of the water, creating an ingredient that’s packed with flavor and tastes amazing in many dishes. Sun dried tomatoes are even good for you, as they retain many of the nutrients and antioxidants found in fresh tomatoes.
The tomatoes have long been popular in Mediterranean cooking, particularly in Italy, but made their mark in the United States much more recently. They were a trending ingredient back in the 1980s and 1990s, then dropped out of popularity. They’re coming into their own again these days and are worth trying. Seriously, they taste incredible in the right recipe.
First though, you need to learn how to use sun dried tomatoes, as these tomatoes aren’t as moist as regular tomatoes and have a much more intense flavor. This means you can’t simply substitute regular tomatoes for sun dried ones. But, don’t worry, you’ll be able to use sun dried tomatoes in countless ways once you’re familiar with them.
How To Use Sun Dried Tomatoes (9 Ways)
The first approach is the simplest: just eat your sun dried tomatoes straight from their container. This works best if the tomatoes been stored in oil, as they’ll be plump and easy to eat.
Don’t throw the oil out. It has a fantastic flavor and works well in many situations, like as a salad dressing base.
If the sun dried tomatoes were in a container without liquid, you might need to soak them first. You can do so in warm water or even wine. They’ll be ready to eat after 30 minutes or so.
Sundried tomatoes are often simply used on top of dishes. Pizza is the most popular option here, although plenty of other dishes work with sun dried tomatoes too.
Sometimes you’ll be using the tomatoes as they are, while other times you might be slicing them into small strips first (julienning them). Slicing the tomatoes like this makes them easier to eat. Doing so also makes it easier to balance the flavors within your meal.
Sun dried tomatoes are just as delicious mixed into meals. Countless pasta recipes do this, but you’re not limited to pasta. Sun dried tomatoes also add vibrancy to many salads.
You might use sun dried tomatoes in egg dishes as well, including scrambled eggs, omelets, and quiches. This use is fantastic because eggs have a fairly mild flavor of their own. Even just a couple of sliced sun dried tomatoes is enough to make most such meals shine. Or, why not pair sun dried tomatoes with fresh mozzarella?
Sun dried tomato pesto can be made much like regular pesto, except that you’re blending in sun dried tomatoes as well. Some recipes drop out the basil from the traditional recipe and include both sun dried tomatoes and red peppers. Doing so creates an even tangier spread.
Both styles of pesto make sun dried tomatoes very easy to use. For example, you can then use the pesto as a dip for veggies, mix it in with your pasta, or use it as a sandwich spread.
An even simpler option is to cut sun dried tomatoes into small pieces and mix them into cream cheese. Doing so also gives you a delicious two-ingredient sandwich spread.
This is actually a great starting point for using sun dried tomatoes, as the cream cheese helps to balance some of the intensity of your tomatoes. You can also play with the ratio of cream cheese to sun dried tomatoes. This way you can find the right balance for your needs.
You could also skip the effort and simply use sun dried tomatoes in your sandwiches directly. Some people do this with whole sun dried tomatoes, while others slice the sun dried tomatoes first.
Sun dried tomatoes are particularly good when your other sandwich ingredients have a mild flavor (like if chicken is your main source of protein). You can also use the tomatoes in related dishes, like burgers, cheese toasties, wraps, and even on bagels.
Fish has a mild flavor that’s sometimes a little too subtle. Laying a few sun dried tomatoes on top of your fish before baking it helps to improve the flavor profile, making it much more exciting.
Some people make more complex versions, such as this Oven-Baked Cod With Sun Dried Tomato & Herb Crust. The added herbs elevate the flavor profile further and naturally complement your sun dried tomatoes.
If you bake your own bread, why not mix chopped sun dried tomatoes into the dough? This gives you bread that looks amazing and has bursts of flavor from the tomatoes.
This approach works with most types of bread, so why not experiment? You could also add other exciting ingredients, like asiago cheese, black olives, olive oil, or fresh rosemary. Even a few extra ingredients could give you some truly exciting bread.
Sun dried tomato compound butter could be as simple as butter with chopped sun dried tomatoes. However, there are plenty of more complex options as well.
For example, one Sun Dried Tomato Compound Butter recipe relies on thyme, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, sea salt, and sun dried tomatoes. This approach creates a complex flavor profile that would complement many different meals.
Honestly, even just spreading sun dried tomato compound butter on toast would taste stunning.
5 Delicious Recipes Using Sundried Tomatoes
This Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta recipe is a classic way to use sun dried tomatoes. It should taste divine, as the dish relies on a rich and creamy sauce, with garlic, sun dried tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil for flavor.
While this is a vegetarian recipe, you could easily add some protein. Erin provides details for tweaking the recipe to suit chicken, shrimp, or sausage, giving you plenty of options.
Brussels sprouts can be amazing when prepared well and these Vegan Pesto Brussel Sprouts are one of the best versions I’ve seen. The most stunning part is the use of sun dried tomato pesto. This pesto provides a rich sun dried tomato flavor, making the whole meal much more engaging.
The recipe itself is surprisingly simple. There are only seven ingredients, including the sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil you need to make the pesto.
There’s also nutritional yeast, which adds a vegan-friendly cheesy flavor to the pesto. You could swap this out for parmesan cheese if you’re not vegan.
This Quick and Easy Sun Dried Tomato Sauce provides a flexible way to use sun dried tomatoes. The style is similar to sun dried tomato pesto, but it doesn’t include pine nuts or basil. There’s more oil as well. This makes it easy to use the sauce directly with pasta.
There’s a surprising number of ingredients in the recipe (more than a dozen!), but most of these are different herbs and spices. There’s also brown sugar, olive oil, and tomato paste to provide the right flavor profile.
We’ve already talked about the idea of using sun dried tomatoes in bread. This Sun Dried Tomato Bread recipe steps you through the process, complete with photos and plenty of instructions.
The finished bread looks and taste much like sourdough, but you don’t need any sourdough starter. Along with the sun dried tomatoes, the recipe includes parmesan cheese, asiago cheese, and garlic. These three ingredients make the flavor profile even more exciting.
Finally, we have this Quick Sun Dried Tomato And Feta Dip. It’s one of the simplest dips you’ll find, as it just relies on feta, sun dried tomatoes, and oil.
To get the tastiest dip, look for sun dried tomatoes that are soaking in oil. You can use this oil as part of the recipe, which simply heightens the sun dried tomato flavor. You can add a little extra oil if the original version of the dip is too thick.
How Do You Rehydrate Sun Dried Tomatoes?
If your sun dried tomatoes were packaged in oil, they should be ready to use. But, if they weren’t, you’ll need to rehydrate them.
Doing so can be as simple as placing the tomatoes in a bowl and covering them with warm water. Adding a little salt can improve the flavor profile and make the tomatoes even tastier.
Water isn’t your only option here. You can also turn to more flavorful liquids, including white wine or broth. The duration of soaking depends on how dried out the tomatoes were. Half an hour will be enough sometimes, while other times you might need an hour or more.
These are simply sun dried tomatoes that have been packed in oil. Sometimes plain oil has been used, while other times there may be extra herbs or other ingredients to improve the flavor profile.
These sun dried tomatoes tend to relatively soft and can be used as-is, without any preparation. However, they’re often fairly expensive.
Dry-packed sun dried tomatoes are normally the cheaper option and can be found in small sealed bags and plastic containers in the grocery store.
Because there’s no liquid, these tomatoes tend to be drier and quite chewy on their own. You’ll normally need to rehydrate them before using (unless you’re adding the tomatoes into a water rich recipe, like a soup).
Once hydrated, dry-packed sun dried tomatoes are similar to oil-packed tomatoes. The two aren’t completely interchangeable, though, as the oil-packed version tends to be fattier and isn’t as good when you want a light flavor.
Yellow Sun Dried Tomatoes
Red sun dried tomatoes are the most familiar style and the one you’ll see at grocery stores regularly. However, there are yellow sun dried tomatoes as well.
These are simply made using yellow tomatoes rather than red ones (yellow roma tomatoes are especially good here). These tomatoes are likely to be less acidic than their red counterparts and may have a milder flavor. However, the exact flavor profile will be influenced by the type of tomato chosen.
Semi Dried Tomatoes
Semi dried tomatoes are a little different. While they’re made using the same techniques as sun dried tomatoes, they’re removed from sunlight before they’re completely dried.
This approach creates a juicier type of tomato that’s a little easier to work with. The flavor may be milder too, making them excellent if you find sun dried tomatoes a little too intense.
How To Make Sun Dried Tomatoes
There are a few different ways to make sun dried tomatoes, all of which use the same preparation steps. First, you’ll need to choose your tomatoes. Roma tomatoes work the best, as they’re meaty and don’t have too much juice.
Try to select tomatoes of a uniform size. This way they dry at the same time.
After this, you need to wash and dry the tomatoes. You can remove the skin if you want, although this step isn’t essential.
Next is blanching. Here, you drop the tomatoes into boiling water for around 20 or 30 seconds, then remove them and drop them into ice water.
Following this, you’ll want to core the tomatoes, remove their ends, and cut them. Roma tomatoes can be cut in halves or quarters, while cherry tomatoes can be simply cut in half instead. If you’re using larger tomatoes, try for quarter inch slices.
Sun dried tomatoes can be made exactly as the name suggests – by slicing tomatoes and leaving them to dry in the sun. To do this, you’ll need a temperature of 85˚F and plenty of patience. The process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
You might need to cover the tomatoes with a cheesecloth during the process (just make sure the cloth doesn’t touch the tomatoes themselves). Doing so helps to keep the bugs off.
However, the sun isn’t essential for making sun dried tomatoes. You can make them in your oven as well. Doing so involves roasting them slowly for between 2.5 and 3.5 hours on a low heat (around 200˚F or 250˚F works well).
Some recipes have an even longer baking time than this, where you’re leaving the tomatoes at a very low temperature for 7 to 8 hours or perhaps more. The exact time will be influenced by the time of tomatoes you’re using and how dry you want them to be.
Regardless of the recipe, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the tomatoes to make sure they don’t burn.
You can also turn to a dehydrator. Here, you’ll want a temperature of around 135˚F for between 5 and 7 hours.
You’ll still need to keep an eye on the tomatoes to prevent them from drying out too much. This will also allow you to choose the exact level of dryness for your needs.