tomato time!

It’s no secret that tomatoes are here and now is the time to gorge.  My heirloom tomato plants are feeling a little challenged this year.  No blight (yea!), but the Green Zebra and Cherokee Purple plants just shriveled up.  OK.  The Chocolate Cherry tomatoes don’t make it out of the yard (pick and eat, pick and eat) and the San Marzanos aren’t ripe yet.  Thank heavens for the farmers’ market!

I bought this box for $15.  FIFTEEN.  There must have been at least 25 pounds of tomatoes – I stopped counting a couple of recipes in…   While I still haven’t tackled canning, I do cook and jar for the fridge and freezer, which means yummy foods for the next couple months.  I spent Saturday making just a couple of my favorite recipes, multiple times.  If you have too many tomatoes, try these!

Provencal Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce – adapted from Gourmet, August 1998 / Epicurious

Makes about 3 cups, enough for 1 pound pasta

  • Olive oil for brushing pans
  • 1 head garlic
  • 4 pounds vine-ripened red tomatoes (about 10 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, or to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and lightly brush 2 shallow baking pans with oil.

Separate garlic head into cloves, discarding loose papery outer skin but keeping skin intact on cloves, and wrap in foil, crimping seams to seal tightly.  Cut tomatoes into ½ inch thick slices and arrange in one layer in baking pans.  Sprinkle 2 teaspoons each of rosemary and thyme evenly over tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Put foil-wrapped garlic in one of baking pans with tomatoes and roast garlic and tomatoes in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, about 35 minutes total, or until garlic is tender and tomatoes are slightly charred.  Unwrap garlic and cool slightly.  Peel skins from each clove and force pulp with warm tomatoes and herbs through a food mill fitted with small disk into a bowl (or mash a lot with a potato masher).

Finely chop remaining teaspoon rosemary and remaining teaspoon thyme and stir into sauce with orange juice.  Season sauce with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary.

Sauce keeps, covered and chilled, 4 days, or frozen, 4 months.  Reheat sauce over low heat and re-season with oj, salt and pepper.

Note:

  • Might as well make a double batch and freeze.  You’ll be happy you did.
  • Do not use your best baking pans as it’s hard to get the burnt tomato from the corners.

I was in the mood for a chilled tomato soup so I made a couple double batches of a gazpacho (or salad soup as my OH calls it), but my favorite tomato soup is a hot one.  I’ll have to make this one next weekend.

Creamy Tomato Soup – adapted from Martha Stewart Living, September 2001

Serves 4

  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ c dry white wine (dry vermouth works)
  • 3 lbs ripe summer tomatoes (4 cups chopped)
  • 1 t coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ t freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ c heavy cream

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add wine, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.  Cook just until tomatoes are falling apart, about 5 minutes.  Stir in basil, and remove from heat.

Let cool slightly.  Transfer tomato mixture to a blender, filling the jar no more than halfway; work in batches if necessary.  Cover lid with a clean dish towel, and press lid securely in place while blending soup.

Return soup to saucepan.  Add cream, and adjust consistency with water if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.

Not enough room in your freezer for tons of jars?  Not in mine.  So, after a day of saucing and souping, I sliced up a bunch of tomatoes in put them in the oven overnight.  The next morning I cooled them off, then put them in the freezer (on a tray first, then transferred to ziplock bags with air removed).

Sundried Tomato recipeadapted from the White on Rice couple

This recipe is for actually drying your tomatoes in the sun, however you can make sun-dried tomatoes in the oven as well.  Set the temp. to 180°F and slowly dehydrate the tomatoes for 8-10 hours or until they are no longer tacky and the texture is like a plump raisin. Paste or plum tomatoes are the ideal choice, but you can really use any tomato you have on hand. No ingredient quantities are needed.  Season by preference, keeping in mind the tomatoes are going to reduce a lot during the dehydrating.

  • a few lbs Plum (Paste) Tomatoes, sliced lengthwise (for an 1″ to 1 1/2″ thick tomato, slice no thinner than in thirds)
  • Chopped Herbs (oregano, thyme, etc…) optional
  • Sea Salt

frame with screen mesh to lay tomatoes on & more screen mesh to lay over the top to keep bugs off

1. Slice the tomatoes & lay on framed screen mesh. Season with optional herbs and sea salt.  Cover with another layer of screen mesh and place in a sunny spot. Leave outside for several days (may be longer, depends on weather, thickness of tomato, water content, etc…) Sun dried tomatoes are done drying when the texture is no longer tacky, and it resembles a plump raisin.

2.  Store in a vacuum sealed bag (or zip lock with air removed) in fridge or freezer for up to a year, or store packed in olive oil and sealed in a sterile canning jar (can be left in a cool place).

So what else?

24 hours of tomatoes along with pickling those mutant cucumbers (farmer man called them hard weather specials!) and tangy salted chiles from my one prodigious plant… several gin & tonics helped cure the fatigue.

I want to keep stashing away veggies for future as I start turning to prep the garden for winter.  I can’t believe it’s September and soon time to plant garlic already!

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