Regular tomatoes are great, but they’re pretty common. I can find normal tomatoes in almost any sandwich, salad, pasta, pizza – but sun-dried tomatoes are much more elusive. Their exotic flavor immediately stands out in any dish. Now, these guys may be pretty fancy, but don’t think that they only belong in $10+ entrees at classy restaurants. Thanks to the jar of ‘California Sun-Dry Sun-Dried Julienne Cut Tomatoes’ that I found at Wegmans, I’ve recently discovered how easy it is to incorporate sun-dried tomatoes into basic recipes for a distinct savory kick. Case-in-point: the sun-dried tomato melt and sun-dried tomato brie ‘dip.’
Sun-dried Tomato Melt
Essentially a twist on the classic tomato-mozzarella sandwich, this melt only requires four ingredients and under 10 minutes.
Prep Time: 2-3 minutes
Cook Time: 5-6 minutes
Total Time: 9 minutes maximum
Servings: Makes one open-faced melt
1 slice basic sandwich bread (I used Wegmans Soft-Crusted Multigrain)
1 slice mozzarella cheese
1.5-3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, according to preference
1 pat (roughly one teaspoon) unsalted butter
1. Spoon tomatoes onto the slice of bread. The bread can be toasted or toasted based on preference and toaster accessibility.
2. Top sun-dried tomatoes with a slice of mozzarella.
3. Melt the pat of butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
4. Slide the open-face sandwich into the pan, then cover the pan with a lid. Allow the bread to brown for 4-5 minutes, uncovering it once or twice to slide it around the pan with a spatula.
5. Using two spatulas or similar flat utensils, flip the sandwich onto the cheese side. To do this, slide one spatula under the bread while the other covers the cheese and then flip as quickly as possible. Allow it to melt, uncovered, for 10-30 seconds (longer = melt-ier but messier).
6. Turn off the stove and flip the sandwich the same way as before, making sure that the lower spatula is between the cheese and the pan, not the cheese and the tomatoes. If the flip gets messy, use the spatula to spread the tomatoes and cheese across the sandwich while they’re still in their melty, moldable state.
Sun-dried Tomato & Brie Dip
You’ve probably been wondering why ‘dip’ is in quotes. Fact is, this simple combination of brie and sun-dried tomatoes doesn’t have the creamy or saucy consistency of most dips, but it goes so well with chips or crackers that I insist on presenting it as such.
Slightly adapted from Pastry Affair
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15-20 minutes maximum
Servings: Makes one small, about 7-ounce bowl of dip.
6 ounces brie cheese (I used Wegmans Medium, Buttery Camembert)
5 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
1. Using a sharp knife, carve as much of the rind – the thin, white casing around the soft cheese – off of the cheese as possible without cutting out too much of the cheese itself. The rind is perfectly edible, but removing it allows the cheese to lose its shape and be mashed with the tomatoes.
2. Spoon the sun-dried tomatoes into the bowl and mash them with the cheese. Tip: even if you bought pre-cut tomatoes, chop them further before adding; I didn’t and quickly realized that mixing would’ve been much easier if I had.
Voila! It may not look great, but who judges food by looks instead of taste?