Okay. Let's say you've recently come into some sun-dried tomatoes. And not just a few, but a good couple of handfuls, maybe even an entire paper bag full. What on earth am I going to do with all these sun-dried tomatoes?, I can hear you asking yourself. Aren't they so 1998? Aren't we all so over them?
Why, yes, dear reader, I do believe you have a point. I personally think the sun-dried tomato shark was jumped at the precise moment when people started putting sundried tomatoes in their bagel dough. With slivers of them already polluting every pasta sauce and sandwich spread I came across, it was at the bagel store that I decided I never wanted to see another sun-dried tomato again. And so, over the next decade, I did my very best to avoid them at all costs.
Until my Sicilian uncle (of course it was him) introduced me to something called capuliata.
Capuliata is nothing more than sun-dried tomatoes whizzed to little bits, put in a glass and topped with olive oil. You can add a dried chile to the mix or dried oregano or garlic, if you like, or you can keep it plan. What's important is that the capuliata always be covered with olive oil (which keeps it from spoiling). It's intense, this stuff, but it totally rehabilitates the sun-dried tomato. Capuliata is so good, you'll find yourself hoarding it. Max and I once finished a whole jar in less than a week. I do believe some competitive eating might have been involved.
But what do you do with capuliata, I can hear you asking. Well, you can use it as a crostino topping, or dollop it alongside some cured meats for an antipasto. You can use a few spoonfuls to dress pasta, along with copious amounts of chopped parsley and grated pecorino. You can spread a dollop of it on a nice crusty sandwich along with something smooth and cool to calm down the flavors, like ricotta (I'd add some arugula, too). Or you can, like my husband does, eat it from the jar with a spoon. (Only recommended for the diehards, though - my mouth would explode if I tried this.)
As you can probably already guess, it makes for a really nice present, especially when jarred in a pretty Weck glass. As long as there's always a thin film of oil on top, capuliata will keep for up to a year, though I very much doubt it would ever languish in anyone's pantry that long.
You hardly need a recipe, but here's how I do things:
Find yourself some sun-dried tomatoes. My most recent batch of capuliata came from 8 1/2 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes (240 grams). Put them in a food processor and pulse them until they are finely chopped. According to taste, add a healthy pinch of dried oregano and/or a dried chile to the processor before pulsing.
Wash and dry some jam jars (I was able to fill two). Fill the jars with the chopped tomatoes. You may have to push them down a little, but do not stuff the tomatoes into the jar too hard. Pour good-quality olive oil into each jar, pausing halfway through for the oil to slither into all the nooks and crannies, until the capuliata is covered with a thin film of oil. Close the jars. Store in a cupboard for up to a year (no need to refrigerate after it's been opened, as long as there's always some oil on top).