AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Down on the Farm (recipe: sun-dried tomato pesto) DATE: 8/20/2009 08:46:00 AM ----- BODY:
Every year I make a pilgrimage to Southern Maryland to can tomatoes. Perhaps it seems silly (and environmentally unfriendly) to drive 500 miles each way, but I treasure the time I spend with my friend Brett – harvesting, cooking, fishing, eating and drinking. And we always have much to chat about – whether it’s the tomato blight or the antics of his work-crew.

When Brett started Even’ Star Organic Farm twelve years ago, he wanted to be known as the “Tomato Man.” He pledged to only sell tomatoes that had truly ripened on the vine, unlike the commercially graded “vine ripens” which need only show the slightest blush of pink to garner that label. Unfortunately, after the first year, he discovered that the fully ripened tomatoes were too fragile, and his customers wanted a product with a longer shelf life – 2 days instead of 2 hours. Now he picks them two days from perfection, still more ripe than his commercial counterparts.

Over the years, and through some research I did for him, he realized that the tomatoes were a loss leader – he only makes about $1 per case profit. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and he uses the tomatoes to lure customers and relies on other crops to make his money.

This year, Brett is up to his eyeballs in tomatoes. And coming from New England, where entire tomato crops have been wiped out, this is a welcome sight! Hundreds of cases of tomatoes fill the storage room. His CSA subscribers are getting seven pounds a week.

He will not be able to sell all the tomatoes, so he will preserve them to sell with his winter CSA subscription. In addition to canning for his home-use, some tomatoes will be truly sun-dried. The tomatoes are sliced thickly and laid out on trays in the greenhouse (where temperatures can exceed 150F) to sun-dry.

If you are in the DC area, you can purchase his tomatoes at the Chevy Chase Farmers' market on Saturday mornings from 9am - 1pm, at the corner of Broad Branch and Northampton Sts., NW, DC.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup olive oil
2 tbs. pine nuts or almonds
1 tbs. chopped garlic.
2 tbs. parmiggiano reggiano
¼ cup basil leaves
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

1. Rehydrate tomatoes in olive oil: Combine in skillet over medium-low heat and cook until the tomatoes plump and are pliable, about 5 minutes.

2. To the tomatoes, add the garlic and nuts, and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until garlic is lightly golden and nuts are slightly toasted. Immediately remove from heat.

3. Strain oil and reserve. Put tomato/garlic/nut mix in a food processor. Coarsely chop. Then slowly drizzle in reserved oil and process for 1 minute more. Add parmesan and basil and pulse until incorporated.

4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Mangerati DATE:8/20/2009 09:43:00 AM Roughly how much time will the process of sun-dried tomato pesto take? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Callie Durbrow DATE:8/21/2009 08:45:00 AM That's amazing that they have so many! Tomato pesto sounds great. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:8/21/2009 12:04:00 PM Love the look of all those tomatoes and really wish they were in New York - I'll have to bookmark the recipe in hopes of a better crop next year. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:8/21/2009 05:27:00 PM It sounds like a heavenly trip to me and the flavor of a sun-dried tomato is perfection in my opinion. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:OpenID lydiatheperfectpantry DATE:8/22/2009 09:55:00 AM I love the idea of sun-drying tomatoes in the sun! Instead, though, I make slow-roasted tomatoes in my oven, when it's cool enough to turn the oven on. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:8/23/2009 10:17:00 AM Mangerati -- the sun-dried tomatoes can take about 48 hours to properly dry. The pesto can be made in 10 minutes.

Callie -- And so delicious!

T.W. -- Has NY seen the tomato blight too?

noble pig -- To me, it's so worth the drive.

Lydia -- isn't it funny how "sun-dried" tomatoes are so rarely actually made that way. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:10/06/2009 12:11:00 PM when you dry the tomatoes in the oven, what is the temp and for how long? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:10/07/2009 09:58:00 AM Anon - thanks for visiting! You want to dry the tomatoes at the lowest temperature possible in your oven... 150F - 200F. The temperature of your oven will dictate the timing. It can take 3 hours or overnight. ----- --------