Sunday, September 22, 2013

Still on the Preserving Train! This Time: Walnut Pesto & Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Although the weather has started to vary (yay, never knowing if you need rainboots or a jacket when you leave the house for the day!), I'm still getting tons of stuff out of the veggie patch in the garden.

I've been trying to use up as much as I can, but there's always something that outgrows your efforts.  This year, for me, it has been the basil and the cherry tomatoes.

As a result, this weekend, in an attempt to preserve some of the bounty I oven dried some of the cherry tomatoes, and made some walnut pesto with the basil.

To make your own basil walnut pesto, you will need:
2 cups packed basil
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil (start with 1/3 cup, and add more as needed)
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1-4 peeled cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you want it)

Start by putting 1/3 cup of olive, and all the other ingredients in a blender.  Blend until well combined.  If you need more oil, feel free to drizzle it in.

If you aren't using your pesto right away, as I was not, you can pour your pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze it.  Once it is set, pop out the cubes and put them in a freezer bag.  Then, you can just grab cubes of pesto as needed!

To make your own oven dried tomatoes all you need are some tomatoes (plum tomatoes usually work best, but my cherry tomatoes went pretty well), salt, vinegar, olive oil, and if you like, some herbs for extra flavouring.

Preheat your oven to 200F.  Put a cooling rack on a baking sheet.  Cut your tomatoes in half (if using plum or other large tomatoes, some may need to be cut into quarters).  Sprinkle them with salt, and put them in the oven.  Keep the door slightly ajar (I used a wooden spoon to keep mine open), so that the moisture can escape.  
Depending on size, the tomatoes should take 3-6 hours.  They are done when they are leathery and a deep red (which means that you'll need to check on them periodically).
When they are done, and cool enough to handle, put them in a bowl and sprinkle them with a little bit of vinegar, and toss to coat. 
If not using right away, put them in a clean, sterilized jar, and cover with olive oil.  If you are using herbs, add them in as well (I put rosemary in mine).  The longer you leave them in the jar, the longer the herbs flavour will infuse through the oil and tomatoes.  Mine is now in the fridge for extra safekeeping.

Have you been setting aside anything for winter?  Got any recommendations on how to use up the tomatoes I still have coming in?  I'm starting to run out of ideas!


  1. Wow - I love pesto in ice cube trays! What a great way to freeze ahead. We ended up growing a tonne of basil this year but I never thought to make my own pesto. Awesome idea! :)

    1. Thanks lady! I've also got some basil, and some of the other herbs, hanging to dry (I tied the bunches to a coat hangar, and that's hanging from a light fixture that we never turn on)

  2. We had a crazy tomato year about 3 years ago. Have you made tomato jam? pretty good. When I was just cooking my tomatoes thick (seeds and skin removed) to take less room in the freezer, I once over cooked. I used a pumpkin cake recipe and made tomato cake which was actually delicious. I took my inspiration from my mother's 'apple' pie, made with zucchini.

    1. I have not made tomato jam, mostly because I can't figure out what I would use it for once it was made. Do you use it like ketchup?