What am I going to do with all these tomatoes? Here are a few suggestions for fresh tomato recipes.
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I admit it. Since moving to the city last year, I miss stepping outside our former home to harvest the tomatoes ripening on the vine just outside the back door. I’ve never had a green thumb, but our cherry tomatoes grew like crazy. Some years, the vines were so laden with tomatoes that no stakes and green gardening tape couldn’t hold them up. I’d resort to draping them across random, overturned lawn chairs to keep them off the ground. Some years, I’d attempt to grow heirloom tomatoes. But, once we realized raccoons were chomping down on them — something they’d never done with the smaller, less precious varieties — we stopped that experiment.
Now, instead of picking our own, we walk to the weekly farmer’s market. The upside, in addition to the seasonal variety, is that there’s no need to guard against deer or rabbits or raccoons (just an occasional elbow from the competitive shoppers in the mushroom line).
This time of year, the farmers’ tables are loaded with at least a dozen varieties of freshly harvested tomatoes in all their crimson, claret, striped and spotted gold glory. Whether you grow your own or, like me, can’t resist snagging “just one more” Porkchop tomato at your farmer’s market, the question is the same:
What Am I Going to Do With All These Tomatoes?
No question, a simple tomato sandwich is indescribably delicious (though Bull Garlington does a pretty nice job of it here) and simple: Bread, mayo and sliced tomato. But here are a few more suggestions for fresh tomato recipes:
1. Easy Caprese Salad or Bruschetta
Making Caprese salad is absolutely the tastiest (and easiest) way to respect in-season, ripe tomatoes. It is so good when prepared correctly. I want to kick myself every time I pay dearly for a restaurant chain’s Caprese salad made with a mealy greenhouse tomato and bland, rubbery cheese. I should know better than to order it out of season. After all, the tomato is the star.
Here’s how to put together a decent Caprese salad on a plate:
Layer a slice of tomato, a slice of fresh mozzarella, and a fresh basil leaf. Repeat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and a small splash of balsamic vinegar. Top with parmesan cheese shavings and a chiffonade of basil. Find a glass of wine, a hunk of bread, a good book and a comfy chair. That’s summer.
Here’s the bruschetta variation:
- In a medium bowl combine two or three chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, add salt and pepper and allow the juices to stew for at least 10 minutes.
- Add a few tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of balsamic, and a quarter cup of chopped fresh basil to the tomatoes and stir.
- Slice a French baguette into one-inch slices. (Italian bread or sourdough is excellent here, too, as long as it is not too soft.)
- Places the bread on a cookie sheet and brush each slice with olive oil.
- Broil or grill the bread until crispy brown on the edges.
- When the bread is ready, place two or three slices of fresh mozzarella on top of each slice.
- Top with the tomato salad. And don’t forget the juice.
- Garnish with shaved parmesan and leftover basil.
2. Greek Salad All Day
Is there anything better than a Greek salad? That combination of tomato, cucumber, lettuce, onion, olives and feta? Nope. But with a few tweaks and embellishments, it gets even better. Here are three recipes from HFR:
3. Sandwich Heaven
All summer long we’ve been eating Bull Garlington’s cult favorite Southern Tomato Sandwiches (talk about easy!). But when we’re craving avocado and sprouts with our tomato, we turn to this California Veggie Sandwich recipe.
Tomatoes also taste amazing atop my latest creation — a grilled vegetable sandwich with eggplant, zucchini and peppers (and goat cheese).
4. Keep Those Fresh Tomato Recipes Alive for Winter, Roast ’em
I have deep admiration for people who have the talent, patience and organizational skills required to can, ferment, or pickle any type of food. And I have been tempted. But freezing is easier and faster.
Here’s how I preserve summer’s tomatoes for winter:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Slice tomatoes into rounds and remove as many seeds as possible. Roma tomatoes work well, but any variety will do.
- Lay the slices on a baking rack. Lightly salt to bring out the juices. Let drain for at least 30 minutes.
- Blot the tomatoes dry.
- Lightly grease a sheet pan with olive oil.
- Place the tomatoes — touching but not overlapping — on the sheet pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Salt and pepper and place a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and half a dozen whole cloves of garlic in the pan.
- Roast in the oven for 1 to 3 hours until dry and somewhat shriveled but not crisp. Roasting time will depend on the number of tomatoes you’ve used and your oven temp.
- Once the tomatoes are cool, remove the rosemary and garlic and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Divide into freezer bags, label, and freeze until you need them.
You can use these gems in pasta, soups, bruschetta, sandwiches, grain salads, regular salads, and as a pizza topping. Use them to add more flavor to store-bought marinara or homemade marinara. Just about anything!
5. Let’s Eat Pie! Bull Garlington’s “Easy Tomato Pie” Recipe
You may have discovered tomato pie in “Southern Living“ or tomato tart in a French cookbook, consisting of crust, layers of tomato and not an ounce of mayo. But, our resident southern cooking expert, Bull Garlington, says if you didn’t grow up in Alabama, Georgia, or North Florida, you’ve never had a real tomato pie. “Because it does have mayo, and it’s weird and it’s delectable.” We trust him when he says it is delicious, “peak southern cooking here.” Here’s the recipe:
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