When thinking of dried foods the thought of a gourmet meal may not come to mind. However, a using a small amount of sun-dried tomatoes adds a burst of flavor to many recipes. Throughout history tomatoes have been featured heavily in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Greek and Italian cooking where they are the base to a large percentage of traditional savory dishes.
Aside from being a delicious fruit eaten on its own its very versatile with almost every other vegetable available to man, and sun-dried tomatoes are high in lycopene, antioxidants, and potassium, and vitamins A and C. They’re also low in sodium and calories, and free of saturated fat and cholesterol. Sun-dried tomatoes are lipophilic, which means that cooking them with some fat, like olive oil, actually increases their nutritional value.
But where did the sun-dried tomato originate?
If you said Italy you are correct, Italians dried tomatoes on their tile roofs for use during the winter months when tomatoes were not readily available and before modern canning methods. However sun drying is one of mankind’s oldest preservation methods as evidence shows that Middle East and oriental cultures actively dried foods as early as 12,000 B.C. in the hot sun. To survive ancient man had to harness nature. In frozen climates man froze seal meat on the ice. In tropical climates the sun was used to dry foods.
American Indians smoked fish and meat, this was an important part of their diet and survival.
During World Wars I and II many foods were dehydrated to develop lightweight, nutritious, stable foods for the military.
Sun-dried Tomatoes have enjoyed a popularity boost in the United States since the 80’s, initially used in gourmet dishes it quickly became a favorite pantry staple for home cooks being added to everything, salads, soups, dips to name a few. Sun-dried tomatoes are easy to use and really bring a punch of deliciousness to any dish.
So Let Sun-dried Tomatoes Take A Leading Role In Your Next Dish
2 lb chicken breast; boneless, skinless cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 package 3-4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoon fresh basil
1 cup half and half
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
12 oz rigatoni pasta
3/4-1 cup reserved cooked pasta water
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste.
2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
paprika lightly sprinkled over chicken before cooking
salt, to taste
Julienne slice sun-dried tomatoes and mince garlic; set aside.
Cut chicken into 1/2 inch chunks and season with salt, pepper and lightly sprinkle with paprika; set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, add salt and cook pasta according to instructions. Before draining pasta reserve some of the pasta water.
Using a large deep pan or skillet over high heat add oil and then sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in 2 oil for a couple of minutes or until garlic is lightly browned.
Add chicken and cook on high heat for 2-3 minute on each side.
Add half and half
and each of cheeses to the skillet and cook over medium high heat until the cheeses start to melt and begins to bubble.
Reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until a creamy sauce forms.
Add cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to combine.
Now start to add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water you reserved as by now he sauce has thickened, add more pasta water till you reach the desired thickness.
Add crushed red pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Did I mention I made this same dish but with sausage instead of chicken?
Follow this link to sausage goodness…