How are your tomatoes growing? Are you just getting in the swing of the season? Catching your second wind? Winding down to the end? When I left for vacation a couple of weeks ago, all my tomatoes were still green. Even though we live in 7a, my plants didn’t get in the ground until after the first of June, so we’re just now coming into my tomato harvest. Clint’s garden has been bringing in some volunteer Roma tomatoes on the regular for the past month or so, but he still wasn’t seeing red, either.
I wish I could say I have a million tomatoes, ripe ‘n’ ready, but it’s still a slow climb for me. Seriously, I started with TEN seeds for each variety I grew, and after a damping off of my first group, then tomato hornworms, dropping the hose on my seedlings (DOH!), stepping on my seedlings ($#!%!), it’s a wonder I have any plants growing at all. The yellow plum tomatoes are doing well, and the small red cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen, and they’re delicious. I accidentally broke off one great white, but it ripened on the windowsill while we were on vacation–so tasty!
But when our tomatoes do start coming in, I’m finally ready for them. I’d been promising myself to get prepared, to be absolutely ready to drop everything and handle these maters so we can enjoy them until we can grow more. Now, if they’d just hurry up before it starts getting cold.
Below, you’ll see a list of how we’re going to eat them ALL!
Eat ’em Right Now!
Are you kidding me? I look forward to a fat home-grown tomato sandwich with mayo on some really fresh bread. Wait. Um…These are terrible. Probably old. You don’t want that, do you? I dropped it on the ground. Why don’t you just give it to me?
Cucumber Tomato Salad
This is summer in a bowl. You can roll ’em in some salt and pepper, maybe some lemon juice and a splash of EVOO, or you can dollop some ranch dressing or even sour cream on them. So fresh. So good.
Eat ’em in a short time:
This here is an italian bread salad we forget about, but it needs to be back in heavy rotation, especially in these last hot days of the summer. Try this recipe.
Same general idea as stuffed zucchini or stuffed peppers. I love this for leftover rice, vegetables, and partially used bags of shredded cheese.
Slice off the tops, scoop out the seeds and flesh (for compost, chicken feed, pig food), leaving sides about 1/4″ thick. Chop up the tomato guts and mix with an egg, salt, & pepper, in a bowl with any variety of the following:
- a cup or two of leftover rice, quinoa, or thin pasta
- any leftover cooked meat – ground or cut into small pieces
- shredded mozzarella or cheddar, cottage cheese, ricotta
- diced onions, peppers
- sliced mushrooms, olives
Mix it all up. If it seems too dry, you can add some cream, milk, another egg, some cream of whatever soup–really, it’s all fine. Then stuff the mixture back into your tomatoes, mounding it on top if you want. Top with bread crumbs, shredded cheese, parmesan cheese, fried onions, smashed crackers, whatever you have.
Bake 30 minutes or so and devour.
There are a lot of variations on this. You can try an italian style, pizza subs, buffalo chicken, veggie-only…Your creativity is the limit. If you’re not feeling creative, search on Pinterest.
We’ve still got some hot days left and a nice cool ripe tomato soup will hit the spot! Here’s a recipe from Epicurious.
It’s so simple, but it makes me feel fancy.
Bread, tomatoes, feta, olive oil, maybe some garlic. Oh, man. I could eat this every day. If you need a recipe, here’s an easy one.
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Put ’em up for later:
You can make these as elaborate or plain as you like. Think pizza sauce, pasta sauce, fire roasted sauce, spicy tomato sauce, pure tomato…
Diced Tomatoes (canned by you!)
Blanch ’em, peel ’em, cut ’em up, and stuff ’em in jars. Water bath and done. You can use these for years to make soups, sauces, anything. Seriously, how often do you use recipes that call for canned tomatoes?
Roasted Tomatoes, packed in oil
Oh, sure, you can buy a jar of these for like, $5.99, or you can make your own for pennies! Whoever thought of that marketing idea is a (rich) genius. Slice ’em thick, drizzle with olive oil & a dusting of salt, bake at 250 degrees for about 6 hours, til they’re about half as big as they were fresh. Pack them in jars and top with olive oil. They’ll keep about four weeks in the fridge. Or you can freeze them in oil. It’ll be fine.
If you’d like a more specific step-by-step recipe, here’s one from heartbeetkitchen.
You can slice tomatoes and dry them in your dehydrator. When dry, crumble into large pieces before storing in airtight containers. Then toss them into any dish, especially rice mixes, sauces, and soups. Think about this–how do you think mass food producers put those tomatoes, peppers, carrots, etc. into your Just-Add-Water meal mixes? Now you can make your own without all those nasty preservatives.
Don’t waste a thing:
Especially if you grew the tomatoes, save those seeds! It’s not hard to grow tomatoes from seed, and it’s so much cheaper, even if you lose them a couple of times (I speak from experience!). Save the seeds for next year, or trade them with a friend. Emma (from Misfit Gardening) sent me all kinds of seed varieties I haven’t ever tried before and I’m packing up her seeds from my harvest now!
All those tomato skins you peeled off your canned tomatoes don’t have to go to waste! Dry them and then grind them into a powder. This can be a super-flavorful base for anything, really. It’s a strong start to a vegetable bouillon, but also can amp up the flavor in a soup, gravy, sauce, you name it. I want you to seriously consider this for home cooking, which, sometimes, can be lacking a little special something.
KNOW SOMEONE WHO COULD USE SOME IDEAS?
Share with neighbors, friends, coworkers, customers, your community, anyone in the parking lot.
What are you doing with all your tomatoes? Tell me in the comments or find us on Facebook. Don’t forget to pin this post so you can remember some great ways to enjoy your tomatoes a little differently.
Wishing everyone affected by and in the path of Hurricane Irma & Hurrican Katia, and any of their related winds, floods, & tornadoes stay safe. The weather reports tell us they’re going to bring the pain. Schools have already closed for tomorrow.
God will carry you through the storm.
Que Dios los Bendigo,