Every once in a while, things go great and you get a wonderful harvest. But maybe a little too great. And all at once. That’s what just happened to me. I’d like to say I planned it that way. Maybe even planted determinate tomatoes that are expected to all ripen at the same time. Alas, no. I just planted a slew of indeterminate tomatoes with hopes of just getting a few. Since I planted my front yard food forest and put up food cages in both the front and back yard beds, I had the good fortune of picking eight pounds of tomatoes. Thrilling I must say. First thing I did was make a big recipe of gazpacho. It just so happened that my ENTIRE family was away from home and I was cooking for myself. Truly a rarity. I found a simple recipe in Mark Bitman’s book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
And my favorite part was that the recipe calls for three ingredients I recently harvested from my garden (tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic). The recipe calls for blending together:
- two pounds of chopped tomatoes
- one medium, skinned and chopped cucumber,
- a couple of cloves of garlic,
- some olive oil,
- a slice of day old bread,
- a pinch of salt
- and some water.
I put all of this in a medium bowl, blended it with our trusty hand blender and in just a few short minutes, instant, delicious, summer dinner. And plenty for lunch the next few days. Awesome.
But of course that left six pounds of tomatoes. And on Sunday I needed to go on a week long work trip. So, that called for a big batch of Marcella Hazan’s simple tomato sauce. This recipe has only three ingredients: tomatoes, onions and butter. And it really captures the wonderful ripe tomato flavor. And the sauce freezes well. Perfect.
Another simple and easy solution for quickly processing a big batch of ripe tomatoes is slow roasting them. We used these on sandwiches, in salads, on pizza with pasta. Anyway you might use sun dried tomatoes. Their flavor is truly heavenly. And they couldn’t be easier to make. They also freeze very well. All it takes is thickly slicing (¼ inch slices is good) the tomatoes, tossing them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, some cut up fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, marjarom all work well) and a pinch of sugar. Once the slices are generally covered lay them onto foil lined baking sheets in a single layer. They can placed closely. Place the cooking sheets into an oven at 300 degrees F. Leave to slow roast for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Once done, pull out of oven, let cool.
It is amazing how yummy these are. And so simple. We add them to pasta, quesadillas, omelettes, really any place you might use sun dried tomatoes. They are somewhat fragile but store well in the refrigerator for about a week or a few months in the freezer.
Well, I know that there are all sorts of ways to preserve summer tomatoes. These are two of my favorite. What are yours?