MICROWAVE OVEN METHOD: Combine tomatoes, water, garlic, oregano and thyme in a 13x9x2-inch oval glass or ceramic dish. Cover tightly with microwave plastic wrap. Cook at 100% in a high-wattage oven for 8 minutes. Prick plastic to release steam. Remove from oven and uncover. Stir well. Re-cover and cook for 8 minutes longer. Prick plastic to release steam. Remove from oven and uncover. Stir well and allow to stand, stirring occasionally, until cool and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer to a 1-1/2-quart souffle dish. Pour 3/4 cup of the olive oil and the vegetable oil over the tomato mixture. Cover tightly with microwave plastic wrap and cook for 5 minutes. Prick plastic to release steam. Remove from oven and uncover. Stir and allow to stand until cool. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Scrape into a large bowl and stir in remaining olive oil if serving immediately. Otherwise, pack in a refrigerator storage container with a tightly fitting lid. The dip will keep as long as a month, so think about making the whole quantity.
STOVE-TOP METHOD: Cover sun-dried tomatoes with water in nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over med heat, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 22 minutes. Allow to cool. Drain. Cook with oil, garlic, oregano and thyme over low heat, covered, for 20 minutes. Puree. Above makes 3 cups. Author's note: The sun-dried tomato dip is a real breakthrough. At a recent cocktail party, 7 guests demanded the recipe. Buying sun-dried tomatoes dry in bulk instead of packed in oil makes them less expensive. Reviving them in the microwave means that you can use a minimum of liquid for optimum intensity of flavor. Then they be packed up in good quality olive oil (much better than that which comes with them in jars) to use as needed or to turn into this dip, with its rich, mystifying flavor.
The dip keeps for weeks in the refrigerator. You will want to have the ubiquitous sliced raw vegetables; fennel does well with this dip. You don't have to use a microwave oven; you can still make this dip even if it is slightly less intense in flavor. The reward is the cooking water. Save it to use for boiling pasta. Cooked either way, this dip makes a delicious pasta sauce. Below are timings for other amounts of sun-dried tomatoes so that you can multiply and divide the recipe as you want. Almost every informal party requires at least one dip. Allow 1/4 cup per guest. At bigger parties, I often supply two or three, spacing them around the room(s) with dippers at each location.
MICROWAVE OVEN METHOD: FOR 1/4 POUND DRIED TOMATOES: With 1 cup water in a 2-1/2 quart souffle dish, cook, covered, at 100% in a high-wattage oven 5 minutes; prick plastic to release steam; stir; cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. In a low-wattage oven, cook 9 minutes and 9 minutes.
FOR 1/2 POUND DRIED TOMATOES: With 2 cups water in a 13x9x2-inch oval glass or ceramic dish, cook in a high-wattage oven 8 minutes, then 8 minutes. In a low-wattage oven, cook 12 minutes and 14 minutes.
FOR 1 POUND DRIED TOMATOES: With 4 cups water in a 5-quart casserole, cook in a high-wattage oven 14 minutes, then 14 minutes. In a low-wattage oven, cook 20 minutes and 20 minutes.
STOVE-TOP METHOD: Cover sun-dried tomatoes with water in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 22 minutes. Allow to cool. Drain.
Recipe from "Party Food" by Barbara Kafka. Source: Party Food by Barbara Kafka