A Few Favorite Recipes From Our Staff
For vegetable gardeners in many parts of the land, it’s tomato-harvesting time. If you planted a variety of tomatoes, as we always do, you now have the delightful problem of figuring out how to use your overabundance of scrumptious, fresh-from-the-vine fruits.
To help you make the most of them, we asked our staff members for some of their favorite recipes. Head gardener Cheryl Whalen loves a Tomato Sandwich, which is about as easy (and delicious) as it sounds: Simply put a generous slice (or two) of beefsteak tomato on bread or toast that’s been slathered with mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper, and enjoy the taste of summer. Another favorite with many staffers is the classic Italian Caprese Salad, made by alternating slices of thick, juicy beefsteak tomato with fresh mozzarella then sprinkling it with fresh basil leaves, sea salt, and olive oil. (You can even drizzle on some pesto for an extra blast of summer flavor.) Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes are a delicious side dish many of us enjoy – simply heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet set over medium high heat, add a few handfuls of halved cherry tomatoes (a mix of red and gold varieties always looks terrific), and a bit of sea salt. Shake the pan until the tomatoes begin to swell and soften just a bit, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat immediately, add a handful of chopped fresh basil (or another fresh herb such as marjoram or oregano), and serve warm or at room temperature. Tomato Bruschetta is another quick and easy favorite that makes it onto everyone’s menu. Toast or grill some thick slices of ciabatta or country bread, rub one side of each slice with the cut side of a clove of garlic, then pile on a mixture of chopped tomatoes (any variety will do) tossed with a bit of olive oil and chopped basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.
Here are a few more recipes from our staff to help you make the most of your tomato harvest. We hope you get a chance to enjoy all of these.
This classic of Spanish cuisine makes the most of tomatoes and lots of other summer vegetables. Variations abound, and you can add or subtract ingredients based on your preferences. We like our gazpacho a bit rustic in style with chunks of vegetables. If you prefer a smoother soup, blend or process until the desired texture is reached.
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, blanched and peeled, and coarsely chopped (your favorite variety or a mix of varieties)
2 English cucumbers, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
½ cup green onions, thinly sliced
2 red or green peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 quart tomato juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
**Blanch tomatoes: The point here is to loosen the skin but not to cook the tomatoes. For starters, bring a large pan of water to a boil. In a large mixing bowl, add ice cubes to water to create an ice bath. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, scoring the skin but not cutting deep. Lower the tomatoes gently into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from boiling water and place in ice bath for 30 seconds. Using a sharp knife, peel away the skin.
Make the Gazpacho: Working one batch at a time, if necessary, puree first 11 ingredients in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. As each batch is pureed to desired consistency, transfer to a large bowl or soup kettle. Continue pureeing in batches until done. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Can be made a day ahead. Serve with crusty bread.
This recipe from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, is one of our must-have dishes of summer. Because we can’t always wait for the large tomatoes she calls for, we make the first bread salads of the season with cherry varieties. As the medium and beefsteak tomatoes come in, we switch to using those. Although this tomato-bread salad is most presentable and best eaten the day it’s made, we frequently enjoy leftovers for lunch for another day or two (or three). Add a few cubes of fresh mozzarella if you want an extra treat.
Ina Garten’s Panzanella
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced ½-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
½ red onion, cut in ½ and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
½ cup good olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.
Makes 12 servings.
Because we can’t possibly eat all the tomatoes we harvest in season, we oven-roast the overflow and freeze them for use long after summer is past. In the depths of December or January, it’s positively transporting to bite into some of summer’s homegrown tomatoes.
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 300°. Cut tomatoes lengthwise in halves, quarters, or eighths, depending on the size (cherries, plum, beefsteak, etc.). Spread them out in single layers on cookie sheets. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, add chopped garlic, basil (optional), salt and pepper. Bake for 2-3 hours until tomatoes collapse and the juice is reduced and syrupy. Pack in freezer containers, pour the oil from the pans over the top, and freeze for up to three months.
Serving suggestions for Slow Roasted Tomatoes:
Bruschetta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Slice ciabatta bread and brush tops with oil from the tomatoes. Broil until lightly toasted. Add tomatoes with garlic and a slice of fresh mozzarella. Broil until cheese softens and tomatoes are warm.
Slow-Roasted Tomato Appetizer Bites
Coat a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Cut wonton wrappers in half so they’re square. Take 2 wonton squares and press into mini cupcake pan, overlaying the squares to create a cup with edges. Fill with roasted tomatoes and top with slice of fresh mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the wonton wrappers have browned.
The following recipe doesn’t include proportions, which you can choose for yourself, depending on how many tomatoes you have and how much sauce you’d like to freeze.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Fresh tomatoes, quartered
Fresh parsley, basil, oregano and thyme
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread tomato quarters and onion on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then, using a wooden spoon (or your hands), combine until vegetables are lightly coated with oil and vinegar.
Roast vegetables in a 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Puree. Freeze in batches, or use immediately.