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I'll admit I'm not all gaga over tomatoes like most foodie people I know. I don't mind them from time to time mixed in something but you'll never see me chowing down on a plate of freshly sliced tomatoes, slurping a bowl of tomato soup or gushing over the heirloom varieties at the market. Not sure what the turn off is; maybe it's the acidity or maybe it's just heredity (my mom's not big on them either). Anyhow tomatoes or "pommes d'amour" (love apples)  as the French called them in the 16th century, are a fruit and a member of the nightshade family. They're easy to grow and super versatile when it comes to cooking. One of my favorite things to do during tomato season is to oven-dry small tomatoes (like cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes). It's easy to do and you can keep them on hand to sprinkle on salads, throw on top of homemade pizzas or mix them with pasta.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 to 3 lbs of bite-sized tomatoes (depending on how much you want to make)

olive oil

salt and pepper (optional)

Instructions

1. Wash tomatoes and dry thoroughly.

2. Slice into halves.

3. Place tomatoes in a bowl. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper if you wish.

4. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place tomatoes cut-side up on the baking sheet, in a single layer. Don't pile or crowd them.

5. Bake for approximately 3 hours at 225 degrees F. Check hourly to make sure they don't burn.

6. Halfway through flip them over with a spatula.

7. Remove when they look leathery but flexible. Allow to cool.

8. What you don't use right away, you can store in the fridge (just be sure to cover them in oil and place in an airtight container). They'll keep for a few days.
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