Oven-Dried Plum Tomatoes

Good cooks get ideas from other good cooks, and this recipe is no exception. I first had these plush-yet-intense tomatoes in a dish prepared by San Francisco chef Donna Nicoletti, and they have since become a China Moon staple. For giving color and a winning jolt of fresh tomato flavor to a stir-fry, I know of nothing better.

Shop for firm, red Roma tomatoes (also called Italian plum tomatoes) that have a good tomato smell. Count on about 4 hours to dry them to the correct consistency. Once “dried” (wrinkled a bit on the outside but bursting with concentrated juice within), they can be kept in the refrigerator for several days.

Don’t pass this recipe by if you’re not a fan of sun-dried tomatoes. This is a tomato of a wonderfully different sort!


  • ¾ pound sweet-smelling, firm, medium to large Italian plum tomatoes


  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Move a rack to the middle position.
  2. Slice off the stem end of the tomatoes, discarding as little of the flesh as possible. Quarter each tomato lengthwise. Cut fat tomatoes into sixths. Put the tomatoes, cut side up and ½ inch apart, on 1 large or 2 small cooling racks. Put the rack(s) on a baking sheet to catch any drips.
  3. Put the tomatoes in the oven for 2 hours. Turn the baking sheet front to back midway through the process to ensure even drying.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the tomatoes dry in the oven until a bit wrinkled but still very pliable and moist, 1½ to 2 hours longer. If you have any doubt, take them out sooner rather than later. You want them to “pop” in your mouth with a moist tomato flavor.
  5. If not using immediately, let cool to room temperature on the rack(s). The tomatoes can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days, lined up in a single layer on a plate and sealed with plastic wrap. Let come to room temperature before using.