In a year where so much did not go according to plan, we do have a good crop of tomatoes
I planted late. We had frost Mothers’ Day weekend, and the next weekend wasn’t that great, either. The weather didn’t level out until almost mid-June. Finally, I planted two cherry tomato plants, one midsized one, and two larger ones as well as a bit of basil, lavender, lemon balm, and mint.
Despite a late start, the tomatoes went insane. By Hubby’s mid-August birthday, we were harvesting and continue to harvest at least a pint of cherry tomatoes a day. The larger ones ripened closer to Labor Day, and ripened in droves.
All was juice-colored bliss.
And to add to the bliss, the manager of the multicultural grocery store I stop at bestowed upon me a crate of half-ripe greenhouse tomatoes. Who am I to say “no” to the question, “Madame, would you like a flat of tomatoes?” asked by someone with an accent revealing his origins in a former Eastern Bloc country who carries himself with the bearing of a mixed martial artist while smiling like an angel?
I accepted them and thanked him.
Reality set in when I arrived home. What to do with them?
I made and froze pasta sauce. After looking at several recipes, I put together my own. I don’t know if it technically qualifies as a recipe, but here goes…
Chop an onion and. couple of garlic cloves and sauté until limp and translucent in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your sauce pot. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, and red chili flakes. Add a half a tube of tomato paste, and give it a good stir.
While that’s going on, wash, core, and quarter the tomatoes. I used about 8-10 per pot. Add them to the pot, cover, and let them cook until they collapse. It took about a half hour or so.
Next, puree them with a stick blender. Let them cook down some more until they reach sauce consistency. Add a couple of cloves of garlic, some herbs, and more salt and pepper. Taste. If it’s too acidic, sprinkle in a tiny bit of sugar. If it needs a bit of brightness, sprinkle in a dash of red wine vinegar.
When it’s balanced to your specifications, turn off the heat and let it cool. When cool, put into the freezer container of choice. I used a combination of quart freezer bags and clean cups from pre-shredded Parmesan cheese. Both batches yielded about three quarts.
I still have about four tomatoes from that flat hanging around. Those will likely be used in a tomato galette. What’s a galette? It’s a free-form tart rather like a cross between a quiche (pastry dough crust) and a pizza (cheese and tomatoes). There are about a million recipes out there, but you should be fine if you use your favorite pie crust recipe, a cheese that runs on the dry side like a Gruyere, and slice and salt the tomatoes in advance to draw out some of the moisture.
And speaking of dry, a nice dry rose would go well with either application.