Oven-Dried Tomatoes + Eggplant Timbales & Pesto

Oven-Dried Tomatoes + Eggplant Timbales & Pesto 150 150 David Rosengarten

Homemade Sun Dried TomatoesYou’ll be amazed at the flavor and concentration of these tomatoes, which are simply baked in the oven at a very low temperature for many hours. Use them immediately in tomato salads, sauces, or stews. Or, mix them with herbs and garlic, cover them with good olive oil, and hold them for a few days in a container at room temperature.

makes 8 oven-dried tomato halves

4 ripe tomatoes (about 1/4 pound each)
olive oil for brushing tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, and place on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Brush tomatoes with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 20 hours or so. When finished, the tomatoes should be about half of their original size and still moist. (If you overcook them, they will shrink even further and dry out.)

Oven-Dried Tomato and Eggplant Timbales with Pesto
One of our favorite ways to use the oven-dried tomatoes is in building first-course timbales that also include baked eggplant and pesto. It’s remarkably simple to do, but your guests will be dazzled. If you like, you can make the timbales a little richer by layering in a little goat cheese as well.

serves 4 as a first course

1 small eggplant (about 6 ounces)
extra-virgin olive oil for smearing the ramekins
8 oven-dried tomato halves (recipe precedes)
3 tablespoons freshly made pesto
salt to taste

1. Puncture the eggplant all over with a fork. Place it in a preheated 400 degrees oven, and cook until it’s quite soft, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool.
2. Prepare the timbales: Choose 4 small ramekins that hold about 2 1/2 ounces liquid each. Smear each one with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Place an oven-dried tomato half, skin side down, in each ramekin (the tomato should just fit the ramekin). Top with a teaspoon of pesto. Top with a 1/2-inch slice of roasted eggplant. Salt the eggplant. Top with another teaspoon of pesto, and then another tomato half, cut side down. You can serve immediately, or let sit at room temperature for several hours to allow flavors to mingle.
3. When ready to serve, run a small, sharp knife around and under the vegetables to prepare for unmolding. Then, turn each ramekin upside down onto small serving plates. The vegetables should come out of the ramekins in stacked, perfectly round cylinders. Serve immediately, drizzled with a little oil from the pesto.

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