Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pasta

Sun-dried tomatoes have been the rage lately, if you haven't noticed. Someone asked me recently how to make sun-dried tomatoes. They had me stumped. I asked fellow chef, Nick Apone, from the Wolverine Golf and Country Club and he gave me his grandmother's recipe. She would put roma tomatoes in the hot sun covered with cheese cloth. You must be careful not to let them get moist from rain or dew and always bring them in at night. Keep placing them in the sun until they are dried.

The flavor from these is really superb. I like using them a lot. Of course, if you have one of those fancy veggie dehydraters, you can dry those tomatoes much faster and not worry about precipitation. Actually, the easiet way is to pick them up at your local italian market. When choosing them, squeeze the packages. The tomatoes should feel a little soft in the bag. If they are hard and brittle, they are too old and you could crack a tooth on them.

To make some wonderful Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pasta, you'll need:

1 pound                fresh pasta
1 cup                  diced sun dried tomatoes
1 cup                  virgin olive oil
2 TB                   fresh garlic
1/2 cup                fresh basil
1/2 cup                fresh parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in your fettucine pasta. Fresh pasta only takes about 4-5 minutes to cook. Remove immediately from heat, drain and place it in cold water. (This is called shocking the pasta.) Sauté the tomatoes in your oil until they are soft. Add your garlic and basil and toss. Drain the water from the pasta, then add it to the tomatoes with the cheese and let it cook two minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a cold, crisp dry white wine. Léon Oudin, a French transplant to Royal Oak, found a superb buy at Meijers. It's a Saint Jovian from Bordeaux. At $4.40/bottle, it's a steal. And as always, a good cook appreciates nature and what it has to offer.