Tomates Confites (Semi-Dried Tomatoes)

tomatesconfitespOne is not supposed to refrigerate tomatoes since they easily lose their delicate aroma at lower temperatures. I manage to follow this advice, but when the summer becomes particularly hot, there is a risk of ending up with ugly, wrinkled tomatoes. This was the case with my beloved datterini I found last week dying in my pantry. If you have never heard about this variety, datterini (“small dates” in Italian) are ovally shaped, most luscious, sweet, but slightly tangy, highly aromatic mini-tomatoes. The ones I have been buying for months come from an organic farm in Sicily and – strangely – taste equally good all year round. Tere was no way I would throw them away, even in such a critical state, and I thought it was a good occasion to make my very first tomates confites, aka semi-dried tomatoes. Not only has it saved my datterini, but this way I discovered one of the easiest and most extraordinary things one can do with tomatoes.

I first heard about tomates confites reading “Grand Livre de Cuisine: Bistrots, Brasseries et Restaurants” by Alain Ducasse, one of my favourite cookery books. I have adapted the recipe to my tiny tomatoes, leaving the skin and seeds, but the result was thoroughly satisfying. “Semi-dried” seemed the best and simplest English name, but tomates confites are also called “slowly roasted tomatoes”, “slowly baked” or even “moon blush tomatoes”.ย The method consists of slowly drying seasoned tomatoes at a very low oven temperature until they are well shrivelled, partly dried, but still soft. Semi-dried tomatoes are excellent in salads, on a pizza, in tarts, in pasta, in sandwiches. You can also serve them simply along with olives and other tidbits as an aperitif snack.

Semi-dried tomatoes can be preserved in oil for a bit longer (see below), but since I had only a small bag, I simply refrigerated them as they were, in a closed jar (they stayed fresh for several days). It’s of course and excellent way to save dying, wrinkled, no longer fresh and plump tomatoes, but if you have your own garden, it’s also a great way to deal with a big batch (the tomatoes shrink a lot).

TIPS: The below seasoning and oil amounts should be treated as approximate. Everything depends on your preferences and imagination.

The degree of dryness also depends on your preference (the ones you see above were probably at the limit of semi-dryness).

If you prepare it with big tomatoes, you might want peel them and remove the seeds before drying.

Preparation: 4 hours

Ingredients (yields approximately one 150 ml/5 fl oz loosely packed jar):

1/2 kg (about 1 lb) very ripe mini tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

4 finely chopped garlic cloves

1 heaped teaspoon thyme

Preheat the oven to 90ยฐC (194ยฐF).

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise.

Put them in a big bowl, add the remaining ingredients and, with your hands, make sure they are well mixed with the tomatoes.

Place the tomatoes on a sheet of baking paper, skin side down, and bake for 4 hours, checking every 30 minutes after three hours if they do not dry too much.

Let them cool down and keep in a closed jar, refrigerated, for maximum a week, or cover them with warm oil and keep in the fridge for two weeks (some people say they keep fresh covered in oil for several months but I haven’t checked it).

49 Replies to “Tomates Confites (Semi-Dried Tomatoes)”

  1. LoL, This post remind me about my grandmas statement when i made my sun dried tomato….
    “why don’t you dry the tomato half way than dry it completely then soaked it when you want to use the sun dried tomato right after you complete the process???”

  2. This is an absolutely brilliant recipe, and perfectly timed. Tomatoes are cheap. Easy recipe, I will definitely make it and I think I will freeze it – will last even longer.
    Tomatoes lose aroma at cooler temps, and they go bad faster at room temp. Sounds like low shelf life, so we have no choice but to semi dry it, or buy canned, which is probably the best since its picked and canned almost straight away:)
    BTW, in Central Asia I went on a picnic with locals. There were 4 of us and we took few kilos of tomatoes, literally. It was a large bag. I found it strange but almost the whole thing was finished. So if you go on picnic try taking tomatoes:)

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. I don’t know why I have prepared these semi-dried tomatoes only now. They are so delicious! I will also be making them whenever I buy some nice looking tomatoes and discover they are acid (then they can be sprinkled with some sugar before drying).
      Freezing is a great idea of course! I don’t freeze much because my freezer is very small.
      You know, actually canned tomatoes (sauce or chopped) actually often taste better in warm dishes because as you say, they are quickly transformed and if one buys Italian brands transforming Italian tomatoes, the taste is usually great. I never use fresh tomatoes in sauces unless they are very ripe and aromatic (about 2 months a year…). Canned ones are a better option. The other day I saw a nutritionist saying that even frozen food is often a better choice (in terms of health, maybe not taste…) because it is transformed in situ while we often buy vegetables or fruits which are in theory fresh, but spent a week or more in transportation, fridges etc..
      Your picnic experience is very interesting. Tomatoes are a better option for a picnic than apples, I’m sure! Especially when it’s hot!

      1. Morning Sissi, I made these yesterday and forgot to mention to you. Absolutely brilliant, tasted as good (or better) than the sun dried tomatoes I had in the refrigerator. I used big tomatoes so it took much longer, and I also slightly increased the temp to speed up the process.
        Thank you for this, I was never happy with the high prices for sun dried tomatoes.

        1. Mr. Three-Cookies, thank you so much for the feedback! I’m glad you have found this easy method useful. Here sun-dried tomatoes are also expensive (and let’s be honest: 99% of them are not dried in the sun…). You have put me in excellent mood for this weekend. I am so happy to share recipes with my friends (especially if they are not disappointed with the result). Thanks a lot!

  3. Oven dried tomatoes are one of my favourite ways to prepare tomatoes, even in the summer โ€” I just adore the concentrated flavours that the oven drying process brings out. And it pairs so very well with goats cheese. I have even oven dried the tomatoes on the BBQ because it would have heated the house up too much. I usually don’t season my tomatoes but I will next time, based on your recommendations above.

    1. Hi, Eva. Yes, tomatoes dried or fresh go perfectly with goat cheese. I often prepare tartlets with goat cheese and dried tomatoes (or savoury cakes I posted once) and now I can try it with semi-dried too! It’s funny because my kitchen (not to mention the house) doesn’t heat when I bake. The kitchen becomes really hot when I cook on the stove though… especially two pans at the same time. I hate it in the summer.

  4. Wow Sissi, these tomatoes sounds delicious, I love the semi dry texture…and very tasty with the garlic and thyme…
    Thanks for the recipe and have a lovely week my dear ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. First time visiting your blog and I’m in love! Love the detailed recipes and I’m bookmarking several recipes already, especially your eggless apricot cake!

  6. Methinks the addition of thyme makes so much difference here! Love doing these at home: have store bought more than once: don’t think the quality nearly the same, even with ‘expensive’ brands!!

    1. Thank you, Eha. Yes, thyme (and garlic! for garlic lovers) make a big difference. You are right: the expensive brands of dried tomatoes are… expensive and not half as good.

  7. I never knew the difference between tomates confites and sun-dried tomatoes, but I know I’ve always preferred the slightly moist and softened ones! The flavours are so much intensified and seem to enhance any dish. My mom always used to give me a hard time when she caught me eating a bowl of plain sun-dried tomatoes, warning me that I’d develop ulcers ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Hi, Irina. I have also always preferred the soft ones, but they are usually softer only because they are soaked in oil. These are soft even without the oil and it depends on you how soft they are.

  8. Recently I also made some sun dried cherry tomatoes because the cherry tomatoes was on promotion at that time.

    1. Hi, Sonia. Yes, it’s a good idea to profit from lower prices. I will be looking for more cheap and ripe tomatoes soon too.

  9. Hello, my dear. It’s been too long. My apologies. And what a lovely sight to come back to. New look, great recipe … as always. Dried and semi dried tomatoes are terribly expensive over here. I definitely will be trying this out real soon, hoping it’ll taste as nice with our local tomatoes.

    1. Dear Ping, what a pleasure and wonderful surprise to see you here! I hope you are ok. I am delighted and hope it means I will talk to you more often henceforward… I have missed you so much! Thank you so much for the compliments. You should try making these! It is so easy and so delicious! Here dried tomatoes are also quite expensive. I hope to talk to you soon. Thank you for your kind visit.

  10. I think I’m going to use this as topping for home made pizza. Great to have recipe like this for over produced tomatoes we usually have at the end of Summer . Your photo is fantastic!

    1. Hi, Nipponnin. Your compliments are as always too kind! Thank you. It was not easy to photograph… so simple but so delicious! I am also waiting for the end of the summer cheap tomatoes. I will preserve them in oil in bigger amounts I think.

  11. I love this way of making tomatoes and indeed it is the perfect way to use dying tomatoes! Your semi-dried tomatoes look delicious Sissi and I am sure there are hundreds of ways to use them!

    1. Thanks a lot, Katerina. I bet there are hundreds ways, but unfortunately someone in my house emptied the jar before I had a chance to do anything else apart from adding them to a salad ๐Ÿ˜‰ I must make them once again soon.

  12. Your semi-dried tomatoes look delicious, and I wish I could try your recipe immediately, BUT I can’t, because my family like tomatoes and cherry tomatoes so much we have none left for drying…

    1. Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. I’m sure you would love them too. Of course the seasoning depends on your preferences (I love garlic and thyme, so it was obvious, but already a bit of salt is enough to make delicious basic semi-dried tomatoes). From what I have understood, you have generous family and neighbours, so if one day someone offers you a lot of tomatoes, this is a great way to prepare some of them.

  13. Love your oven-dried tomatoes, Sissi! I haven’t made it in such a long time! They are so awesome in pasta dishes, as well as salads. The best part of the homemade verses the store bough; is that the one you make at home has a softer and moist texture…such as yours. Beautiful photo, as well!

    1. Thank you so much, Elisabeth. These tiny datterini were also cute as snacks: so small and full of flavours!

  14. I’ve always wanted to try making these, but have never got around to it. My wife isn’t a fan of them at all but if we ever have some in the refrigerator I find it almost impossible to resist nibbling them whenever I pass by. It doesn’t sound very difficult at all, and I think it would be an especially good use for these really poor, cheap tomatoes. They’re too tasteless to use for anything else really and baking them like this would really bring out the natural sugars!

    1. Hi Charles, if you use bland or acid tomatoes, I suggest sprinkling them also with a bit of sugar, but I think it’s really best when made with ripe tomatoes which are now everywhere.

  15. So that is what they are called. I didn’t know. These bigger then usual “cherry tomatoes” appeared at one particular store a few months ago and I have been buying them for my stir fry’s. I just finished oven drying our cherries. Last year’s under dried cherries were so good I did it again. There is a fine line between slightly under drying, over drying and not drying enough. So a bit of guesswork is involved, but in the case of the tomatoes the oil is a wonderful preservative.

    1. Hi, Zsuzsa. These are oval (a bit pear-shaped) and sometimes as small as cherry tomatoes sometimes slightly bigger. They are sweeter than usual cherry tomatoes. I wish I could dry cherries… They are much too expensive.

  16. This is definitely a fabulous way to save those tomatoes that sit too long! Thank you! I usually end up giving overripe tomatoes to the backyard turtles and putting them in the compost. I’m keeping this recipe for the next type I have overripe tomatoes, which happens often this time of year.

    1. Thanks a lot, MJ. I must say I was very glad to discover it myself. I never liked throwing out wrinkled tomatoes… I hope you will find it useful. (PS “Backyard turtles”????).

  17. Yes – We have about 4 backyard turtles that came with the house when we bought it 14 years ago. We have a male and female so every once in a while we find some young turtles, but unfortunately, so do the raccoons that come through periodically. We might have more than 4, but I know that right now we have 3 adults and 1 turtle that is about 2 to 3 years old. They are wild turtles so we don’t see them much, but I’ll throw food scraps out which they love. ๐Ÿ™‚ As far as the type of turtle, they are standard box turtles.

  18. Actually I just live in the middle of a city residential area. However, we are lucky in that we have a large lot (1/3 acre) and live across the street from a small city park that is used primarily by the neighborhood residents. It’s quite nice. The park has a female Cooper’s hawk that has lived there year round every since we’ve lived here. Her comes in during the spring and leaves in the fall. This year they had 3 young ones, so it’s been fun watching the young hawks chase each other through the park. ๐Ÿ™‚ So it may not be a dream island, but for city living, it a dream location!

  19. Semi-dried, that’s new to me! Tomatoes are relatively cheap in California and this will be a fun recipe to try…while in Japan, each tomato is pretty expensive (but summer is not so bad). I can think of many recipes to use these delicious tomatoes~~!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. You should try these! I sometimes wonder why fruits are so expensive in Japan. I think it has nothing to do with high costs of farming but probably with the Japanese attitude towards them: they are treated like elegant sophisticated tiny desserts…

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