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It’s time for tomatoes

Matti Blume,

Try making some homemade tomato soup if you have some homegrown tomatoes.


Sometimes I think I am cursed when it comes to home gardening. As just one example, everyone I know who plants tomatoes starts harvesting them at least two months before I do. And they dare to complain, “Oh no, what shall I do with ALL these tomatoes?” while I am lucky to get two or three no matter how many plants I have.

One year my plants did not bloom until well into October, then cold weather took care of any hopes I had for tomatoes. I started my plants the same time everybody else did, followed all the growing instructions and tips for my zone, made sure they didn’t get too much or too little water, pruned and staked branches, had proper fertilizer, sun, etc.

Tomatoes just do not like me. But I like them, and one of my favorite dinners in the summertime is a tomato sandwich, prepared with mayonnaise, a slice off a huge red (why do they call them red when they are purple?) onion and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Here are some recipes you can browse if you are lucky enough to have some homegrown tomatoes.

Roasted tomato basil soup

3 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved

2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

2 ounces fresh basil leaves, or to taste

3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 1/2 cups water

Splash of lime juice, optional

1. Preheat oven to 450. In a large mixing bowl, combine tomatoes and carrot pieces. Add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Toss to combine.

2. Transfer to a large baking sheet and spread evenly in one layer. Roast in heated oven for about 30 minutes. When ready, remove from heat and set aside for about 10 minutes to cool.

3. Transfer roasted tomatoes and carrots to the large bowl of a food processor. Add just a tiny bit of water and blend.

4. In a large cooking pot, heat 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and cook briefly until golden.

5. Pour the roasted tomato mixture into the cooking pot. Stir in crushed tomatoes, 2 1/2 cups water, basil, thyme sprigs and leaves and spices. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover part-way. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or so.

6. Remove the thyme sprigs and transfer tomato basil soup to serving bowls. If you like, add a splash of lime juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Makes 6 servings.

Tomato galette

1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed

1 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

4 tablespoons cold water

4 large heirloom tomatoes, cored (about 2 pounds)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

4 ounces semisoft goat cheese (or feta cheese), crumbled

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon water

Fresh basil leaves

1. In a large bowl, cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until pieces are pea-size. Stir in Parmesan and cracked pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cold water over part of the mixture; toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until all of the dough is moistened. Form dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes or until easy to handle (up to 24 hours).

2. Slice the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick and arrange on a wire rack over a baking pan, sink or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let drain for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 13-inch circle. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly round.) Fold in half to transfer to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper; unfold.

4. Evenly spread bread crumbs on pastry, leaving about a 2-inch border. Layer tomatoes, shallot, thyme and goat cheese on bread crumbs. Fold crust over filling, pleating as necessary and leaving some filling exposed in center. Combine egg and 1 tablespoon water; brush on edges of pastry.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is browned and crisp. Cool at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with fresh basil (snipped if leaves are large) and cut into wedges as you would for a pie. Makes 8 servings.

Tomato basil jam

Have your canning jars prepped and ready to go before you boil the mixture.2 1/2 pounds fully ripe tomatoes (about 5 large)

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

3 tablespoons snipped fresh basil

3 cups sugar

1 package (1.75-oz.) powdered fruit pectin for lower-sugar recipes (Sure-Jell is one brand)

1. Wash tomatoes. Remove skins, stem ends, cores and seeds. Finely chop tomatoes. Measure 3 1/2 cups. Place chopped tomato in a 6- or 8-quart kettle or pot. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Measure 3 1/3 cups; return to the kettle.

2. Add lemon juice and basil. Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the pectin; stir into tomato mixture. Heat to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cup sugar. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.

3. Immediately ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.

4. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks. Makes 5 half-pints.

Fried green tomatoes

You can also use red tomatoes as long as they aren’t overly ripe.

4 large green tomatoes

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 quart vegetable oil for frying

1. Slice tomatoes 1/2-inch thick. Discard the ends.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and milk together. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs, salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.

3. In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels. Makes 4 servings.



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