“Sun-dried tomatoes can add a little kick to any recipe. See more pictures of heirloom tomatoes.©iStockphoto.com/Rike
The season for fresh tomatoes has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave them behind entirely until next summer rolls around — sun-dried tomatoes are available all year long. The practice of drying tomatoes for use throughout the winter began in Italy, where tomatoes were placed on the tile roofs of houses until the sun baked out almost all of their moisture. This process intensifies the tomato’s natural tanginess, and preserves its inherent nutritional value; sun-dried tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene and vitamin C. Sun-dried tomatoes can be preserved either dry or in oil. Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are best kept in glass jars instead of tins, because the latter will give them an unpleasant metallic flavor.
You can enjoy sun-dried tomatoes, of course, on their own. But their intense flavor also makes them an excellent addition to countless recipes. Not sure where to start on your sun-dried tomato adventure? These five amazing sun-dried tomato recipes will tantalize your taste buds.
- Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Sun-dried Tomato Soup with Cheese Panini
- Sun-dried Tomato Risotto
- Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Pasta
- Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Tartines
5. Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
“Go traditional with sun-dried tomatoes and penne pasta.©iStockphoto.com/Lauri Patterson
Since we owe the existence of sun-dried tomatoes to the Italians, let’s start off with a traditional Italian recipe. This hearty dish is the perfect entrée for a cool winter’s eve, with lots of rich cheese and creamy sauce. This particular recipe is enough for two baking dishes’ worth, one to serve now and one to freeze for later. But, if you just want to make enough for the present, halve the recipe ingredients and go for it.
- 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the baking dishes
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut horizontally
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups whole milk
- 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two shallow, 2-quart baking dishes with butter. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook the penne until 3 minutes short of al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- Using medium-high heat, warm the oil in a large skillet. Season the chicken halves with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook until the chicken is opaque throughout (about 3 to 5 minutes on each side). Cut each piece in half lengthwise, and then slice thinly crosswise.
- Using a heavy pot (or a Dutch oven, if you’ve got one), melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and garlic to the melted butter. Whisk the mixture as it cooks, gradually adding milk, for about a minute. Bring it to a simmer while continuing to whisk. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for another minute. Remove the pot from the burner and gradually stir in the provolone and half cup of Parmesan.
- Add the chicken and pasta to the pot, and then divide the mixture between the two baking dishes. Sprinkle the tops with the rest of the Parmesan. Bake the dishes, uncovered, until golden brown and bubbling (about 25 minutes). Let the dish stand 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve one dish and freeze the other — it’ll keep for up to three months.
4. Sun-dried Tomato Soup with Cheese Panini
“Doesn’t this panini look like it needs some sun-dried tomato?©iStockphoto.com/Robyn Mackenzie
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a classic American pairing. This particular recipe is a nice twist on the original, using sun-dried tomatoes in addition to fresh ones, and ciabatta panini in place of a plain grilled cheese sandwich. The result is a simple meal whose flavor is anything but.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1 tomato, diced
- 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 ciabatta rolls
- 1/2 pound Italian Fontina cheese slices
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring over medium-high heat until softened (about 4 minutes). Add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, stock and thyme, and then bring it to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Take out the sprigs of thyme.
- Transfer the soup to a blender. Add the cream and puree until the mixture is smooth. Be sure to hold the top of the blender in place using a dish towel; blending hot liquids can literally blow the lid off your blender if left unattended.
- Once you’re finished blending, pour the soup back into the saucepan and season it with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the burner to medium so your soup is still nice and hot when your sandwich finishes cooking.
- Add the sliced cheese to the ciabatta rolls. If you have a panini press, you’re good to go; press until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted. Otherwise, cook them on the stovetop as you would an ordinary grilled cheese sandwich.
3. Sun-dried Tomato Risotto
“People cook risotto with lots of different ingredients, but the real star can be the sun-dried tomato.©iStockphoto.com/Eskpansio
Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish. There are innumerable variations to be found in cookbooks and online, pairing the creamy rice with everything from scallops to beets. Risotto can be a little time-consuming, owing to the chef having to constantly stir the rice until it’s fully cooked, but gourmands the world over agree that it’s worth the effort. This recipe includes our star ingredient, as well as a few staples of traditional Italian cooking.
- 1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil, about 10)
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (if desired)
- Simmer the tomatoes and water in a small saucepan for about a minute. Drain the tomatoes (but keep the liquid!) and chop them. Combine the leftover liquid with the broth in a saucepan, and bring the mixture to a slight simmer.
- In a larger saucepan, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over low heat; stir until they’re softened. Add the rice, stirring until all the grains are coated, and then add the tomatoes.
- Add a half cup of the simmering liquid to this mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the liquid a half cup at a time, allowing each portion to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next. Continue this process until the rice is tender but still al dente. This should take about 17 minutes.
- Stir in the Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, and add the fresh parsley for a garnish.
2. Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Pasta
“If you have a food processor, pesto is really easy to make.©iStockphoto.com/Juanmonino
In this recipe, sun-dried tomatoes add a bit of a kick to traditional pesto sauce. Most of the preparation for this dish is in making the sauce, but you can save yourself time later by making more than you need and refrigerating the rest; it’ll keep for up to two weeks. Also, be sure to read up on how to properly toast pine nuts, since that can be tricky. Bon Appétit has an excellent how-to guide.
- 1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 6 ounces)
- 1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 1 tablespoon dried
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 pound linguine
- 3 cups diced cooked chicken (if desired)
- In a food processor, combine sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, basil, pine nuts and garlic. Gradually add olive oil to the mixture and continue processing until a smooth paste forms.
- Cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling salt water until al dente. Drain the pasta, and keep one-half of the cooking liquid. Add to this liquid a three-quarter cup of the pesto.
- Add the linguine and toss over medium-high heat until the pasta is coated; add more pesto, if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. For extra protein, add chopped chicken when you combine the pasta and pesto.
1. Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Tartines
“Top your tartines off with some goat cheese for a delicious sandwich.©iStockphoto.com/Juanmonino
Tartines, or light open-faced sandwiches, are a staple of French cuisine. In this dish, a variety of textures and flavors combine to make a pleasing little appetizer or snack. Ambitious cooks might like to make their own olive tapenade; there a tons of variations to suit every palate.
- 12 baguette slices, each 1/2 inch thick
- 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and cut into quarter-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons julienned sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 1 tablespoon torn fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons bottled black olive tapenade
- 8 ounces soft mild goat cheese, cut into half-inch slices
- Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush one side of the baguette slices with olive oil and arrange them, oiled sides up, on a baking sheet. Once oven is preheated, toast the bread on the center rack until golden brown on top (about 7 minutes). Transfer to a rack for cooling. Keep the oven on.
- Combine the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, vinegar and half tablespoon olive oil.
- Spread the tapenade on each piece of toast, top with a slice of goat cheese, and finish with a rounded teaspoon of the tomato mixture. Re-position the tartines on the baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with about a half tablespoon of olive oil.
- Bake the tartines on the center rack until the cheese is soft (about 5 minutes). Once the tartines are plated, finish with a final drizzle of olive oil.
Lots More Information
- Cooking with Tomatoes
- Lovely Lycopene
- Sliced, Diced or Whole — Which Should You Use When?
- Types of Tomatoes
- Bon Appétit.com. "How to Toast Pine Nuts." (Nov. 9, 2010)http://www.bonappetit.com/tipstools/tips/2008/04/how_to_toast_pine_nuts
- Bon Appétit Magazine. "Linguine with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto. July 1994. (Nov. 9, 2010)http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Linguine-with-Sun-Dried-Tomato-Pesto-2132
- Gourmet Magazine. "Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Tartines." October 2001. (Nov. 10, 2010)http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Goat-Cheese-and-Sun-Dried-Tomato-Tartines-105579
- Gourmet Magazine. "Sun-dried Tomato Risotto." April 1992. (Nov. 10, 2010)http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sun-Dried-Tomato-Risotto-11756
- Kokopelli’s Kitchen. "Sun-dried Tomato Facts." (Nov. 7, 2010)http://www.kokopelliskitchen.com/pages/Sun%252dDried-Tomato-Facts.html
- Martha Stewart.com. "Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes." March 2009. (Nov. 7, 2010)http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/baked-penne-with-chicken-and-sun-dried-tomatoes
- Parisi, Grace. "Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Soup with Cheese Panini Recipe." Food and Wine. (Nov. 8, 2010)http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/creamy-sun-dried-tomato-soup-with-cheese-panini
- Real Simple. "Sun-dried Tomatoes." (Nov. 7, 2010)http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/ingredients-guide/sun-dried-tomatoes-00000000039376/index.html