Semi-Dried Tomatoes a la Marketman


The purveyor at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne said they were “semi-dried tomatoes.” “Softer and plumper than sun-dried, with a rich deep tomato-ey flavor, accented with dried oregano and soaked in good olive oil.” I took one taste and have loved them ever since. I once worked on a project in Melbourne and for a year “commuted” between the Philippines and Australia approximately 3 weeks a month. I would leave on a Sunday evening, arrive early Monday morning and head straight to work; then leave Melbourne on a Thursday or Friday. Once a month, I stayed over a weekend and it was on those trips that I got to do my Saturday forays to Victoria market. Semi-dried tomatoes like these are used in salads, wraps, pastas, sandwiches, etc. and add a wonderful burst of flavor whenever you bit into one.


I rarely come across these morsels elsewhere on the planet, even though confit of tomato or oven-dried tomatoes are now much more popular, if casual cooking shows on television are to be believed. So instead of pining for them, I make them myself a couple of times a year, whenever I hit a “motherload of small ripe tomaotes at good prices. This particular bounty came from the Toscana farm stand on the way up to Tagaytay, and at just PHP60 a kilo, they were 1/3rd the price of good tomatoes in Manila groceries! And their smaller size was perfect for making semi-dried tomatoes. Ideally, you want really flavorful and intense roma or plum tomatoes, but in these parts, you do with what you can get. I have tried making these with native tomatoes and they often come out too acidic, and the final product is a bit tarter than I prefer…


To make, start by ripening your tomatoes on your kitchen counter and NOT in your refrigerator. With these tomatoes, I waited three days until they were at their peak – bright red and still firm but yielded under a gentle poke of a finger. Slice the tomatoes into four wedges and gently squeeze out the seeds and excess water/liquid. Place them skin side down on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and drizzle them with olive oil, salt, pepper and dried oregano or thyme. Slow bake them in a 200F oven for some 3-3.5 hours until they appear semi-dehydrated, but are still a bit moist. Cool them and pack them into small glass jars and add good extra-virgin olive oil to cover. Store in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. This one little bottle probably used up 1.5 kilos worth of fresh fruit. At roughly PHP200 to make, including your extensive gas bill, they seem a bit pricey, but you will enjoy them several times over the course of the two weeks. The flavor for cost trade off is definitely worth it, in my opinion. If you want to make these at the height of summer, I suspect they might freeze well, though I haven’t frozen them myself…


A Saturday trip to the grocery resulted in a nice bag of baby arugula and some bocconcini so I made a simple salad of arugula, mozzarella and some semi-dried tomatoes. Drizzle with some good olive oil, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, some salt and pepper and you get this terrific looking and tasting salad!


You can also chop these and add them to pasta sauces, dips, antipasto platters, etc. They also pair beatifully with some salty prosciutto or ham. Yum!



26 Responses

  1. I’m aussie, and I really can’t stand ‘fully dried’ sun dried tomatoes. This was my student survival food. Every week id pick up some roma tomatoes and semi-dry them out. Who says you have to live on two minute noodles and baked beans?!

  2. good recipe! i can use this one because i am still harvesting tomatoes from my garden. i have already frozen some of my sun ripe tomatoes to be used for sauces in winter time…thanks, mm. .

  3. Those semi dried tomatoes indeed looks yummy. I wonder if using a dehydrator will do the job.

  4. Amazing, I just bought a whole box of ripe Roma tomatoes from Union Square this morning, 37 lbs. for $30. usually $2.00 a lb if purchased in small quantites. With summer almost over, the latter half of August is the best time to purchase tomatoes on the east coast. So I have my work cut out for me this Labour Day weekend, not to mention another bushel of Damson plums for jam. Tomato soup, tomato jam, sauce and now half dried tomatoes which I like much better than sun dried.

  5. First time to encounter semi-dried. I like the dried ones but sometimes the texture is too tough for me. So this is a very good replacement. It’s like baking 2 cakes in the oven in terms of gas consumption, hehe.

  6. Good p. m. Marketman:
    Would be very grateful if you can help me with ff.:
    -What is Phil. equivalent of “flat leaf parsely” (is that the
    wansoy I see in the markets?
    -What is Phil. equivalent of “catfish”
    Thanks Marketman.

  7. Julie, there is no local equivalent of flat leaf parsley… and it is definitely not wansoy. Wansoy is coriander in English. Catfish locally is called hito.

  8. Marketman,
    Pls help me – what would you use if a recipe calls for flat leaf parsley?
    Your sundried tomato recipe is something I’m quite familiar. I’ve been using Martha Stewart’s recipe, which calls for garlic,as one of its ingredients, it’s also oven dried for about 2-3 hrs. I want to try your recipe with oregano.
    I enjoy visiting your site — very interesting, esp. the recipes, your style of writing, tips, etc. I will also look up Cely Kalaw’s restaurant in Market Market after reading your blog about Bicol Express. I am a fan of yours.

  9. Last year, during a cross country trip from SF to NYC (and back) to attend the Fancy Food Show in NYC (I drove the Charles Chocolate truck filled with 10,000 pcs. of super premium chocolate truffles, pralines, pate-de-fruit, etc.) , we came behind a truck filled with tomatoes and I said matter of factly to my co-chocolatier riding shotgun with me…”And thats how they make sun-dried tomatoes!!!” hehehehe

  10. k. ramos, the combination is worth a try, but the olive oil and herbs on the tomatoes would be a bit unusual with salted egg I think. Julie, just use curly parsley in place of flat leaf parsley. It is the best substitute. However, I am finding flat leaf parsley to be quite readily available at S&R, Rustan’s, Santis and the like… I almost always manage to have a bit of it in the herb selection in our fridge these days. You can also buy plants at the Manila Seedling Bank in Quezon City and grow your own… Oh, and as for Tita Cely, you would likely run into her at her stall at the Saturday Salcedo Market or Sunday Legaspi market, where she sells many of her iconic Filipino dishes, including Bicol express…

  11. Julie, MM, I think kinchay is the local term for flat leaf parsley? Shouldn’t be a problem buying it, I see it in all markets and supermarkets.

  12. Hi cumin and julie, no, kinchay is not flat leaf parsley, I believe it is Chinese celery/parsley, or whatever its name, but kinchay definitely has a different taste from Italian/Flat leaf parsley… :)

  13. Marketman,
    Tks for your feedback. I hope you won’t mind if you tell me where to buy parmigiano regiano — I dont see it in the supermarkets of Rustans and Megamall. Would be much grateful if you can tell me a nice substitute for it locally available. I just feel you’re the guru of anything related to cooking.

  14. I was just about to ask you the difference of semi-dried and sundried tomatoes because i just saw semi-dried tomatoes in Terry’s at Podium last Friday! The semi-dried tomatoes were beside the olives and I didn’t know if you could use them like you do sun dried tomatoes… With all things food, you really are the source! Thanks for the post…

  15. HI MM,
    I Just made some semi-dried tomatoes, more or less similar to your recipe, a week ago. I was quite disappointed with the results. I guess, the tomatoes were too watery to start with, even if I did remove the seeds and most of the juice. Or the tomatoes were not sweet enough. I found that the results were not worth the effort. I guess you have to choose the kind of tomato to semi-dry. Otherwise, I’d prefer to buy the sun-dried tomatoes, although these could be pricey, are nevertheless easy to prepare directly on salads and/or worth preserving in olive oil with herbs and the like.

  16. Hi MM,

    I was wondering if you would know where I can buy a dehydrator here in Manila? I’d really like to duplicate this great recipe of yours!

    Thanks in advance

  17. hi MM,

    do you have any idea where to find cheapest dried thyme for a thesis experiment?does toscana farms sell dried thyme?i am from sta. rosa, laguna and i prefer places nearby if you know or have an idea where i could find help is greatly appreciated..thanks!

  18. Hi! Where can I buy sundried tomatoes preferably in Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong or Pasay area? I live in Sta. Ana, Manila.



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