A few days ago day temperature reached a maximum of 46 degrees. I saw in the news that people were trying to use scorching heat of sun to cook dosa and omelet. Hot summer days are blessing in disguise when it comes to sun-dry tomatoes, I thought to myself. All it took 4-5 days and above 2 kg tomatoes to make a jarful of sun-dried tomatoes.
Sun-dried tomatoes are extremely flavorful. A combination of piquantness – sweetness makes it a fantastic ingredient for a refreshing salad. I also love using it to make pesto sauce. Or simply serve it along with olives and cheese as appetizers with chilled wine on a warm summer evening!
While summer is still here to stay for nearly another month, make the most of it!
Red juicy tomatoes – 2 kg
Salt – 2 tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil – 300ml (approx.)
Fresh Italian basil – 10-12 leaves
• Wash and towel dry tomatoes.
• Cut them into about ½ cm thick slices.
• Arrange them in two large baking trays.
• Sprinkle generously with salt.
• Place the trays in direct sun light. I prefer to keep it indoors where there is enough strong sunlight passing through a glass door/window.
• Due to action of salt, tomatoes release their juices. Do not remove this liquid but instead keep the trays under a running fan throughout the night. Otherwise pre-heat oven to 180 degrees, turn it off and leave the trays in the oven overnight.
• Keep the trays for at least another 3-4 days in the sunlight, until they are completely dry.
• To store them, arrange tomatoes in a clean glass jar adding few fresh basil leaves. Add extra virgin olive oil to cover the tomatoes completely and close the lid.
You can keep it for a year under the oil.
Tip: Use this oil to make salad dressing.
The winter season….. ahh! what I like most about it is lovely colourful vegetables. My little one is very fond of carrots, loves to eat red juicy carrots raw as snack, more than cooked. Moreover, in this part of Asia carrot is cooked, in fact simmered in milk for hours to make ‘Halwa’, a dessert! I grew up eating loads and loads of carrot halwa everyday during winters.
So the other day I planned to make halwa ‘ for my kids and therefore grated about a kilogram of red juicy carrots. But my little one insisted on cake, any type of cake.
“Well then” I said “cake you must have for dessert!” I found this really easy recipe in my old notes (a diary where I have been making notes for past 19 years! Must admit it has torn apart but I still love to write in it…..it’s precious!!!)
What I like about this recipe is that it’s light and nutritious as you use whole meal flour and lots of dry fruits.
So here we go with the recipe:
Grated carrot 200g
Whole-meal flour 200g
Sunflower oil (any cooking oil) 150 ml
Two large eggs, whisked
Grated coconut ½ cup
Chopped walnut ½ cup
Or/and chopped pistachios ½ cup
Sultanas ½ cup
Zest of one orange
Cinnamon powder 1 tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp
Baking soda 1tsp
- Whisk sugar and oil together until it looks light and seems mixed thoroughly.
- Separately mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder and sieve it to add in some air.
- Into the liquid mixture now add beaten eggs slowly while whisking.
- Next add in all the dry ingredients one by one and fold in well until it’s all mixed thoroughly.
- Transfer the mixture into greased and lined baking tin and bake in pre-heated oven at 175oC for 40- 45 minutes or until cake leaves the side of the tin.
- Remove from oven and let it rest for about five minutes before removing from the tin.
I believe it tastes much better the next day if one has patience to keep it for a day (or children allow it to rest!!!) with some whipped cream.