One of the best things about overflowing summer produce is the yummy surprises I find in my freezer in the fall. A couple of months ago I had tomatoes coming out my ears and decided to make some mock sun-dried tomatoes in the oven. They were so easy to do, and so delicious. Best of all, they take up a fraction of the space of whole or canned tomatoes, since you can stack them all in a freezer bag and stash them away for later.
Now, you’re probably saying, “fat lot of good this does me in the middle of fall with no garden tomatoes to be found!” Well, on one hand you are right. But on the other hand, this is a great trick to make store-bought tomatoes taste better in the fall and winter. By doing this slow bake, you get rid of the watery, mealy texture of winter tomatoes and bring out all the natural sweetness instead. For extra sweet ones, use the little grape tomatoes! Then use in your favorite pasta, omelet, salad, pizza or whatever!
As with any pizza, feel free to build your own with the ingredients and flavors you like. For this particular pie, instead of sauce I used a simple olive oil and garlic mixture, covered with sun-dried tomatoes. Then top with a scatter of your favorite toppings, some melty mozzarella, and you have a pizza to die for. For a more crispy crust, I recommend using a pizza stone, but if you don’t have one, a parchment lined cookie sheet will do the trick just fine.
Homemade Pizza with “Sun-dried” Tomatoes
1 ball of fresh pizza dough (you can make your own or use a pre-made dough, such as Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp. cornmeal
1 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dried Italian herbs
1/2 – 3/4 cup sliced “sun-dried” tomatoes (see recipe below or use store-bought sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil)
6-7 olives, chopped up, any kind
1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 small shallot, sliced thinly and rings separated
1 ball (8 oz.) fresh mozzarella
Remove your ball of dough from the bag, coat in a bit of olive oil and place in a bowl with a towel over it. Let it come to room temperature and rise a bit (usually about an hour is fine). Preheat oven to 450˚ with pizza stone or pan in the oven. While the oven is preheating, prep all your toppings so you can assemble your pizza quickly.
When oven is preheated, remove the stone. Sprinkle stone with cornmeal and press out your dough into whatever shape you want your pizza to be. Since my stone is round I usually go for some sort of roundish, oblong sort of shape. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter garlic and half the herbs over the dough. Rub all around so it’s got a thin coating all over.
Layer on your toppings. I started with tomatoes to mimic “sauce”, then layered spinach, olives, shallots and then cheese on top. Sprinkle with the other half of the herbs.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, or until crust is crunchy on the bottom and cheese is melted and starting to brown just a bit on top. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve.
“Sun-dried” tomatoes – no sun needed!
Sea salt (plain, or infused)
Fresh cracked pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 250˚. Line baking sheets with parchment. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise. Lay out on sheets, sliced side up. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Bake 3-4 hours or until slightly flattened and sun-dried looking. Let cool. Store in freezer bags, and pull out as needed.