September 25, 2009
All summer I have been waiting for a garden bounty of tomatoes. Santa Barbara finally got some nice summer heat and ta-da!…I found myself with five enormous plants all heavy laden with beautiful, delicious tomatoes at the same time. Great! Great. Great?
My tomato windfall coincided with school starting, a full calendar of non-profit events and planning, a new puppy, and no time to can. I quickly accepted the mantra, “The freezer is my friend.” Quickly, I filled up four 1- gallon size zip lock bags and tucked them in the freezer (check out my freezing tips below) and got the situation momentarily under control.
But then we harvest more tomatoes. I get creative with my menus. When I have 20 guests for my birthday party, I make gazpacho and paella, it serves a dual purpose- lovely, fresh dishes for my friends to enjoy, and it put a nice dent in the tomato supply…or so I thought. The morning after the party, still a little fuzzy from a very festive night of celebrating, I realize I still have an enormous amount of tomatoes piled high in the kitchen and out in the garden there are more ready for harvest.
In a similar spot? Try out these tips and recipes.
When I have a counter loaded with tomatoes without the time to can, I grab my freezer bags. All you have to do is wash your tomatoes, dry well, toss them in the bag and toss the bag in the freezer. Easy as pie- pie however, is not easy-but we will talk about that closer to Thanksgiving.
I use my frozen tomatoes in place of canned tomatoes when I am cooking in the fall and winter months. Defrost your tomatoes in a colander until they are soft enough to cut…then enjoy them in sauces, soups, etc.
This is so easy and delicious. I always have it on hand and use for pastas, pizza and stuffed zucchini blossoms. You can also use fresh tomatoes, too. I am growing San Marzano’s in the garden and will incorporate them when they are ready but any variety of seasonal tomatoes will do or use the can in the off season.
1 24 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 half small onion chopped
Salt to taste
Sauté onion in olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan (medium/high heat) and cook for 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes (removing basil leaf from the can) and bring to boil. Once it boils simmer on stove for up to 1 hour stirring occasionally. For a smooth sauce emulsify with a hand blender. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with julienne of basil if in season.
If you choose to serve this sauce on pasta; try a traditional San Genovese based wine from Tuscany.
My friend Teru Ogue of Sakana in Montecito shared this recipe with me. This is sweet enough to serve for dessert, but also is a wonderfully unusual appetizer, palette cleanser or mid-afternoon snack on a hot day.
3 large tomatoes, skin peeled off (use a sharp vegetable peeler)
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cup of white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or something with a screw off top you can drink later)
Pinch of salt
Fresh mint leaves (about 20 leaves)
Bring the white wine to a boil over medium high heat in a small saucepan, remove from heat.
Next, mix the sugar into the warmed wine until dissolved and allow to cool.
Into a blender add:
Wine and sugar mixture
Pinch of salt
Pour all the ingredients into the blender, puree until everything is well mixed and smooth. Pour into 8 x 8 pyrex dish, cover and freeze. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon into small bowls and garnish with mint leaves.
Rica’s Tortilla Soup
Rica has worked for us for us for 15 years and is one of my most favorite people in the entire world…she has become a second mom to me. Originally from Durango, Mexico her food is clean, fresh, and so tasty. Every time she cooks I am excited. Here is Rica’s wonderful and easy tortilla soup. It is delicious!
2 cups homemade or good quality chicken stock
3 tomatoes quartered
1 jalapeno chili (including seeds)
1⁄4 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grape seed oil
4 small corn tortillas
1/2 avocado cut in large dice
4 sprigs cilantro
1/2 cup jack cheese (grated)
In a blender puree stock, tomatoes, chili with stem removed, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour into a pot and heat on medium until it bubbles…then cover and simmer until tortilla strips are done.
With soup simmering, heat oil in a skillet and slice tortillas into strips about 1/2 inch thick. When oil begins to ripple, add 1/2 of the strips and fry until golden brown.
Remove from pan with tongs onto a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with next batch.
Ladle soup into a bowls. Garnish with tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro, cheese and serve.
I prefer a clean tasting white wine with this soup. Like a Gruner Veltliner from the Wachau region of Austria or a Chardonnay that is made in stainless steel rather than oak.