Drying Tomatoes

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The next line of food preservation classes from UI Extension are on freezing and dehydration. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for information on freezing and drying foods.

Past years, the focus has been on home canning. This summer is about preserving fruits and veggies in other ways. And sampling some dried foods was a perk too.

For those of you with a crop of tomatoes who are tired of salsa, tomato sauces, adding tomatoes to salads, eating tomatoes plain with salt, and other methods of preparation, consider dehydration.

For dried tomatoes, try…

  • A basic dried tomato. Directions for a dried tomato are fairly simple: remove skins, cut thin, add a prep step like a citric acid solution, and dry. Cherry tomatoes and other small varieties may not need skins removed. Add these into recipes like pasta dishes, soups, and stews.
  • Dried cherry tomatoes. Grab a handful to eat as they are or add to a trail mix for a savory snack. It is best to use very sweet tomatoes, like Sunsugar varieties.
  • Tomato or vegetable leather. These recipes are not like a fruit leather, made to be eaten solo, unless you want. They are useful in recipes that use tomato paste or reconstituted (adding water) to make tomato sauces.

Garlic Chicken Spaghetti (serves 6)

Garlic in two forms – fresh and powdered – adds noticeable but not overwhelming garlic flavor to this easy main dish. Pair with berries and a green salad or other vegetable for a complete meal.

8 oz whole-wheat spaghetti
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 8-oz container mushrooms, washed and sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, optional
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, without added salt or fat.
2. In a plastic bag, combine flour and garlic powder. Add chicken and shake to coat. Shake off excess coating from chicken.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken in 1 Tbsp oil until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Note: flour coating will stick to pan. If needed, add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to reduce sticking.
4. Meanwhile, chop tomatoes into bit-sized pieces and place in a small heat-safe bowl. Add boiling water and let stand 5 minutes. Drain off any remaining liquid.
5. Add mushrooms, garlic, broth, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper, if desired, to chicken mixture. Continue cooking until mushrooms begin to shrink and broth thickens into a light sauce.
6. Stir in the tomatoes and heat through, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Top cooked spaghetti with chicken mixture cheese. Serve hot.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 340 calories, 9g fat, 550mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 27g protein

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.