Today we launch the Taste Safari Larder special posts. I’ll be telling you all about what to stock in your larder as I do with mine, along with a host of delicious quick-fix  ideas! Keep these on file whenever you need an easy idea for entertaining or just easy everyday meals. Enjoy!

Sun-dried tomatoes are believed to have originated in southern Italy. Italian peasants, without the means to sufficiently refrigerate or can fresh tomatoes, dried tomato halves on their terra cotta tiled roofs. They could then enjoy these “pomodori secchi,” or dried tomatoes, throughout the winter until fresh tomatoes were again available. Extensive trading throughout the Mediterranean took these ideas to other areas including Turkey, which today is the world’s leading producer of sun-dried tomatoes.
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Sun-dried tomatoes are available in a variety of different forms. The most popular are the ready oil soaked varieties that are sometimes teamed up with various herbs and spices to enhance the overall taste experience. I make my own sun dried tomatoes as shown in the photos and I use fennel seeds and whole coriander seeds to add to the flavour profile. I also create some special jars of very tiny chopped sundried tomatoes so they are quick and easy to spoon into dips, marinades and salads.
So here are a few ideas for sundried tomatoes:

  1. For a quick dip, chop up some sun-dried tomatoes into tiny pieces. Mix together with 1 bunch finely chopped dill, 1 tsp finely minced fresh garlic, 1 tub of cream cheese, 2 tbs of natural yoghurt, 1 tsp smoked spanish paprika, salt and a generous grinding of fresh black pepper! Serve with some extra large nachos!DIP
  2. Toss some sun-dried tomatoes into your favourite summer salad. I like typical Mediterranean flavours like avocado, mozzarella, grilled aubergine slices, lots of fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes. A neat trick is to use the oil from the jar with a splash of balsamic vinegar as a dressing. You could also try this delicious fennel, orange, sundried tomato and cajun chicken salad!salad
  3. For a quick fix pasta, boil some linguini and set aside. In a frying pan, throw in some olive oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 cup of tiny cubes of courgette with 1/2 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes. Stir fry briskly for a few minutes. Dash in some cream, salt and black pepper, a squeeze of lemon and plenty of chopped flat leaf parsley. Serve with plenty of freshly shaved Parmesan! Another delicious sundried tomato pasta recipe is my elegant sundried tomato and garlic mushroom pasta. pasta
  4. I love making a sun-dried tomato spread for a Smoked Chicken, Halloumi Cheese and Rucola Baguette. In a small blender, pulse together 1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes, 1/2 tsp dried oregano,  2 heaped tbs of fresh cottage cheese, 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or oil from the sun-dried tomato jar) and 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes. Spread this paste into a freshly warmed baguette, layering with slices of smoked chicken, Halloumi cheese and rucola. Perfect for picnics!sun-dried-tomato-spread
  5. When you are making a tomato soup, I always roast my tomatoes in the oven first for a richer finish. Toss in a couple of sun-dried tomatoes as they roast for a more final, intense flavour!
  6. For a quick fix biting for surprise guests, reach for your sun-dried tomatoes. On top of a small strip of Parma ham, place a piece of oil soaked sun-dried tomato, a cube of feta cheese and a basil leaf. Roll up into a small delicious package and secure with a toothpick. Serve with plenty of vino!

I hope you’ll try some of these quick treats as well as looking through the other Taste Safari recipes that feature sun-dried tomatoes!

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