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Sweet but not treat: Homemade Sunblushed Tomatoes

sunblushed tomatoes

My sister sent me an email this morning. It went something like “I thought you told me you’d made some cupcakes! When are they going on the blog? You need to post more sweet things because I don’t eat salads!” Er, okay. Sorry to disappoint you Hil, but I wasn’t planning on posting those cupcakes anytime soon; they weren’t my own recipe, or adapted in any way at all, so off the blog they’ll stay. (They were delicious, though. Smitten Kitchen‘s Best Birthday Cake, quartered, exactly fills my favourite Tefal Jamie Oliver 6-muffin pan.)

I do see my sister’s point, though. As someone who’s always professed to dislike salads, it’s been alarming for me to see the rate at which that category has grown around here. Granted, few (if any) salads that I’ve posted have qualified as “green”, but they’re salads nonetheless, and I do feel as though I’m falling into a rather predictable pattern here. 

So, an attempt to break it: today I’m posting a recipe, not for a dish, but for a condiment of sorts. I’ve loved sunblushed tomatoes ever since I first discovered them at my local grocery store. Halfway toward being sundried, they’re juicier and fruitier, but still fantastically rich in flavour. I love them in all manner of pastas, sauces, pizzas and yes- salads, and have even included them in recipes here. They are also extremely pricey, so when I saw that my favourite cookbook author Nigella Lawson had a recipe for making them at home, I couldn’t not try it out.

sunblushed tomatoes

Nigella’s method for reproducing these is simple: place the tomato halves in a baking dish, throw on the seasonings, put in a super-hot oven and turn off the heat. Eight hours later, voila! The only problem is, it didn’t really work for me. Maybe my oven cools quicker than most, but the first time I tried this, my tomatoes were barely flustered, let alone blushing.

I worked it out though, and now, rather than turning my oven off completely, I just turn it down to 75°C or so. Two to three hours later I have a bunch of lovely, tasty tomatoes that can be used for almost anything you can think of. I enjoyed the first of this batch for my lunch today in, you guessed it, a salad. Oh, well. At least they’re sweet, which should keep my sister happy.

sunblushed tomatoes on a salad

  • Sunblushed Tomatoes
  • adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Moonblush Tomatoes, from Nigella Express
  • makes about 1 cup (can easily be multiplied, though)
  • 250g fresh cherry tomatoes
    1/2 tsp. sea salt
    1/4 tsp. dried thyme
    1/4 tsp. dried oregano
    1/8 tsp. sugar
    2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1. Preheat your oven to its top temperature. Remove the stems from the tomatoes and cut them in half along their equator. Place cut side up in an ovenproof dish.

    2. Mix together the salt, thyme, oregano and sugar and sprinkle over the top of the tomatoes. Drizzle over the olive oil and put in the oven.

    3. Immediately, turn the heat down to somewhere in the region of 75-100°C/165-200°F. This isn’t an exact science, and will depend on how long you want to wait for your tomatoes: the lower the temperature, the longer it will take but more flavourful they’ll be.

    4. Cook for 2-3 hours, until the tomatoes are soft and fragrant. They should lose their raw look, but not be charred. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


  1. Hilary says:

    Well they’re no cupcakes, but this is definitely a close second. I’m so impressed you made your own sunblush tomatoes! I never buy them because they are a hideously expensive non-essential that I can’t justify, so this inexpensive recipe is an exciting development in my life. Ed is going to love these (on his salads)!

  2. F. says:

    Just the other day I was lamenting the fact that I can’t seem to find any sunblushed tomatoes around her… and that led me to wonder what would be involved in making my own. Looks easy enough, I think I’ll try it this weekend. Any idea how long they can be kept in the fridge before they go bad?

  3. tara says:

    This recipe is a mainstay in our house – they are wonderful to keep on hand. I will often toss in a tray after I have made dinner and the oven is still hot. Yours look delicious.

  4. jd says:

    Yum. Seriously, just yum!

    These look so amazing that I’m drooling!

  5. Ele says:

    Hil-Yeah, they are pretty pricey. I would argue that those “non-essentials” are sometimes the most important things to spend money on, though… because they’re the flavour-makers! But these are way cheaper and just as tasty, go happiness all around!

    F- Hmm, I’m really not sure. A good 3-5 days, I’d imagine. Mine have never lasted that long, though. I tend to just make what I need, and usually they’re eaten within 24 hours.

    Tara- That’s such a great idea! I’ll have to try that after making pizza, maybe. (Since that’s probably the hottest I ever get my oven to.)

    jd- Thanks, they were super easy, too!

  6. Teanna says:

    Your sister sent me the link to this recipe – it looks like perfect!!! And you both have such amazing sites!

  7. Ben says:

    If you want to store them longer you can store them in a jar with some ovile oil and they will lat ages in the fridge, I always eat mine to quick though.