Tomatoes

Oven Dried Plum Tomatoes

“Dried” isn’t exactly the right word for these, because the resulting gems are not leathery like a sun-dried tomato. What they are is slow roasted for a few hours, concentrating the flavor and making a rather flavorless raw tomato a star. I’ve made these with big or little plum tomatoes, and cooking time varies accordingly. Recently I met a great farmer/orchardist named Buzz who gave me some tiny plums he didn’t want, and this was the perfect way to use them. The tomatoes were about 2-½ -inches long, and the resulting little halves are about the same size as sun-dried tomatoes you buy in the store, but much more succulent, and a whole lot cheaper!

Preheat oven to 275°F.

Halve enough tomatoes to fill up your pan in one layer (I used my two quart ceramic casserole dish). Butter the dish, and fill with the halves, cut side up.  Sprinkle the halves with a generous pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a small pinch of sugar. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then take about 1 TBSP of butter, and dot the tomatoes with it.

Roast in a slow oven for about an hour and a half to two hours. Check the tomatoes at 90 minutes to see how they are doing – you want them to be shriveled, but still have a little moisture in them.

Use the tomatoes to top a pizza, tart, crostata, or use them instead of ketchup on your next burger.

Stewed Tomatoes

From Making Luck

One recipe makes about 6 cups stewed tomatoes, which gives you plenty to make the beans and some to enjoy on its own.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 14 ½-oz. can of stewed tomatoes (you could probably leave this out, but I put it in and I wouldn’t want to jinx anything…)
  • 1 28-oz. can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • ½ a large onion or 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ a red pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • A wedge of lemon (for squeezing on at the end)

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, celery, red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until the vegetables start to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, drain the plum tomatoes over a bowl, saving the juice. Slice the tomatoes into ½ inch slices. Add the sliced tomatoes and juices to the pot, along with the can of stewed tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf, salt, pepper, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Calories: about 95 per cup.

Quick tomato sauce

From Scenes from a Job Interview

Makes 1 cup

  • 5 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled or unpeeled (the sauce will be chunkier if you don’t peel, which is fine too.)
  • 1 fat clove or garlic squashed but not so much that it doesn’t hold together
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram (use dried thyme if you don’t have marjoram)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus one big or two medium whole basil leaves
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • A small pinch crushed red pepper
  • Large pinch of salt, and a few good grinding of pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat (I use my nonstick – works well with this). Add in the shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook until the shallot softens a bit, add the squashed garlic clove, and cook for another minute until you smell the garlic. While you are waiting for the shallots and garlic, squeeze the peeled tomatoes into a bowl to break them up. (I suggest you do this in the sink, or it may look like you murdered someone in your kitchen – these babies squirt!)

Add the tomatoes, marjoram and chopped basil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to the pan. Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove the garlic and taste the sauce for seasoning, adding more if necessary.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

From Toto, I don’t think we’re in OZ anymore…

If you too cringe at the cost of ‘farmer’s market’ tomatoes, do what I do. Buy the cheaper ones in the supermarket and roast them! This is a great recipe when cherry tomatoes are in season, and is even better in colder weather when the only passable tomatoes you can get are these little babies.

  • 1 lb cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 6-8 branches of fresh thyme
  • 2-3 TBSP of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Put the tomatoes on a sided cookie sheet or shallow baking pan so they are in one layer and not crowded. Drizzle with 2-3 TBSP olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss in the thyme (you don’t need to strip the leaves from the stems – they will come off as they roast). Toss everything thoroughly so the oil and seasonings are well-distributed over all the tomatoes. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the tomato skins burst and the tomatoes wilt a bit.  Remove the stems from the thyme (most of the leaves should have fallen off during the roasting) and pour the tomatoes and juices into a bowl or jar. If you aren’t using them right away, they’ll keep well for a few of days in the refrigerator. You can use them with fresh ricotta over pasta (see recipe below) , as a side dish, a topping for bruschetta, on sandwiches, burgers, or however you like. They are delicious!Calories: 440 calories per pound of tomatoes, or 110 calories per serving for 4.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Spicy Blueberry mustard Sauce Serves 2

From Channeling the Broads

For the Sauce

  • 1/4 cup blueberry all fruit (I use all fruit because it’s a little thinner and less sugary than jam)
  • 1 TBSP honey mustard
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all of the ingredients. Chill until ready to use.

For the Tomatoes

  • 1 large green tomato (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • oil for frying

Slice the tomato into ¼” slices. Put the flour into one bowl, the buttermilk in another. Mix together the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a third bowl.

Add enough oil in a frying pan so it’s about a ¼” deep. Put pan over medium-high heat. The oil is ready if it sizzles and bubbles when you drop in some breadcrumbs.

Set up your three bowls in the order of flour, buttermilk, and the cornmeal-breadcrumb mixture. Dip the slices into the flour first, the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off first, and then the crumbs, making sure they are fully coated. Place carefully in the hot oil and cook until one side is golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Carefully turn the slices over and fry on the other side. When both sides are nicely browned, remove to a rack or paper towels to remove any excess oil. Sprinkle generously with salt while they are hot.

Divide between two plates and serve with the sauce. Add a green salad and you’ve got a great lunch. Calories: 315/serving.

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