A Gift from Alison
I wanted to share with you one of the foodie gifts I was kindly presented with at Christmas. A jar of the most beautifully tempting sun-dried tomatoes.
Alison and I had a preserving conversation one day in the locker room at work. I was wondering what delights she was making for gifts this time and lo and behold next day I was presented with a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. They just looked so gorgeous nestled in the jar with the rosemary and garlic cloves, that I wanted to know her secret. So here it is ......
Alison's Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, infused with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic
good quality, extra-virgin olive oil
fresh garlic bulbs
bay leaves (optional)
This makes a lovely gift and is easy to make, just start planning well in advance, as you need to let the flavours infuse for a couple of months! An ideal addition to pasta dishes, these flavoursome tomatoes will also complement your cheeseboard selection and are perfect with olives and antipasto.
Firstly, you need to shop around to purchase quantities of sun-dried tomatoes - they can be very expensive if purchased in small amounts from your local deli or supermarket. This year I found that the 'Julian Graves' shops had a BOGOF, (Buy-one-get-one-free!), deal on large bags of good quality sun-dried tomatoes.
Make sure you have clean, scrubbed glass jars at the ready! I collect these all year round, ensuring a plentiful supply in Autumn, when it's time to make the Christmas goodies! It's also a good way of recycling your empty jars - let nothing go to waste!
The best quality extra-virgin olive oil you can afford, is another essential purchase - try Aldi's and Lidl on the high street, or a cash and carry if you have a ticket - or know someone who does! Buy in bulk....what you don't use for bottling, you can use for cooking or concocting tasty salad dressings.
Decide in advance how many jars of tomatoes you would like to make up.....ensure you buy enough extra-virgin olive oil and packs of tomatoes to fill them up.
Take your clean, dry jars and fill half-full of the olive oil. Then place sprigs of fresh rosemary in the jar, round the sides, plus several cloves of peeled fresh garlic. Bay leaves add flavour and look pretty too. Then pop the sun dried tomatoes into the centre of the jar - if they are whole, you may wish to cut them in half to make it easier to layer them up. Then top up with more olive oil to within a centimetre or so of the lid - make sure the contents are completely covered! Make sure too that the lid is screwed on tightly - leave in a cool dark place to infuse........
As the rosemary and garlic are fresh, they won't last for ever.....if you see the colours turning dark, it is time to remove them.....although they will have done their job by then! Simply filter through a sieve and throw out. You can replace them if you like, for added flavour, but that's not essential.
Label and date your jars, listing all the ingredients too. You can make them pretty by using raffia, tinsel or off-cuts of material to cover the lids. Most of all, keep some for yourself and Enjoy!!
Thank you Alison, I certainly will! They look and smell divine!
I am thinking of whizzing them up with the oil into a dressing to drip over bruschetta, to dress salads, pasta and anything else I can think of. Just imagine dipping crusty bread into this luscious dressing as an appetiser or drizzling some on to some soup just before you serve it. Yum!
Update: If you would like to dry your own tomatoes check out Andrea's dehydrator method or Kalyn's slow roasted tomatoes which can be cooked in the oven.
Update Number Two: Thanks to Jo over at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl for giving me a '2008 Fabulous Food Blogger Award'. I was late picking it up, but it was a lovely belated Christmas gift :)