Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tomato time

In the past few weeks I have brought many dozens of pounds of tomatoes into my home. They have been boiled, baked, roasted, sliced, squeezed, scarfed and buttered (yes, buttered). If you're in the same position, here's what I've been doing with the abundance.

Fresh tomato sauce. A friend and I went in on 50 pounds of San Marzanos and Early Girls. I used the Smitten Kitchen recipe to make a wonderful basic fresh sauce that I mostly freeze, then spice up (with hot pepper, basil etc) when I reheat it.
Oven drying. I've been getting the Food52 emails for over a year, but it's only with this recipe that I really took to it, and now I look forward to it each week. This method of oven drying was an easy way to get lovely flavorful tomatoes that will keep for a week or so. We did the roasting while making the sauce (and, of course, drinking red wine), and felt very efficient for it.

Brown butter tomatoes. Another Food52 recipe (if you can call it that), this is going to change your life. It turns tomatoes into dessert. Amazing, rich, brown butter dessert.

Caprese. In addition to the San Marzanos and Early Girls, I also ordered a flat of Purple Cherokees from Mariquita Farm. They're so large and gorgeous and perfectly oddly shaped that I couldn't bring myself to cook them. Instead I sliced them up, layered them with mozzarella and basil, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and garlic salt, then drizzled on balsamic and olive oil. They were devoured by our Labor Day BBQ masses.

Baked cherry tomatoes with feta. A friend has been bringing over bags of cherry tomatoes from his coworker's garden. They're mostly sungolds, which are my favorite to eat raw, but they're super ripe and get soft quickly. For Labor Day I used this Smitten Kitchen recipe to bake them with olives, parsley, garlic and feta, and I don't know if I've ever made a dish that disappeared so quickly. The feta gets gooey but doesn't melt, the tomatoes are sweet and garlicky (I used more garlic than suggested), and there's not much better that you can smear on a cracker or a baguette. A note on the recipe: she mentions using halloumi, but while I LOVE halloumi (grill it with peaches and drizzle with honey, it's divine), I liked that the feta got crumbly when baked in the oven and would stick with that.

Panzanella. Another way to adoringly prep the Purple Cherokees (or whatever beauties you have on hand). I sliced the tomatoes into wedges, squeezed their juice into a bowl, then mixed the juice with olive oil and vinegar. I tossed that with bite size chunks of a day old baguette and let it sit for a bit, then mixed in the tomato wedges, chopped basil and parsley, salt, pepper and garlic salt. Next time I would marinate the tomatoes too, along with chopped garlic if I wasn't going to be getting too close to anyone for a while. I ate a giant bowl of this for dinner last night and felt very, very happy.

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