A Tumble of Late Tomatoes

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Excess Sparks Kitchen Creativity

This year, the grafted tomatoes just won’t quit, despite ever-lower night temperatures dipping into the high 30s. For weeks now, I’ve been harvesting what I thought would be the last of the tomatoes. I always leave some, just to see, and sure enough, so far, there are still plenty of plump, firm tomatoes to pick. Some are even ripening, if slowly, and these become more delicious every week, which makes it so tempting to leave yet a few more to see what happens.

My new favorites include the mysterious Black Sea Man tomato, a Russian heirloom variety with reddish-brownish-blackish skin and a reddish-greenish interior. Sliced crosswise, they look like intricate maps or circuitry, wizardy and magical. In the mouth, they are even more magical, balancing sweet and tart with a creamy, almost custardy quality. Green, they are tangy and full flavored as well, which is good, since some of the fruit are so huge, I know they will never fully ripen so deep into October.

A Glut Of Green Tomatoes

There are so many lovely things to do with green tomatoes that having such an abundance is not a bad thing. When pressed for time, I roast them and freeze them for winter soups and sauces. When I can be home for a while, I make chutney, salsa, and jam. I am finally learning to can these in very small containers, since they make better gifts that way (most condiments don’t get used up very fast).

When company is coming, I make tomato pies, to which my family and friends are very partial. I have over a dozen recipes for ripe tomato tarts and pies, and almost as many for green tomatoes. I am especially fond of the gingery version below, which can be further embellished with dried apricots, raisins, or cranberries (great for the holidays).

Roasting Companions

Tender, sweet, and surprisingly juicy, roasted green tomatoes are an autumn classic. They partner surprisingly well with roasted sweet potatoes, which combine a chewy crust and a creamy inside. Serve this with baked potatoes, sliced Honeycrisp apples, extra sharp cheddar cheese, and a mixed green salad for a satisfying meatless meal.

Roasted Green Tomatoes And Sweet Potatoes

1 quart medium green tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme, stemmed and chopped

Toss all ingredients gently to coat well, then place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in a cold oven and bake at 300 degrees F until lightly caramelized (60-90 minutes). Makes about 2 cups.

A Pair Of Pies

Old fashioned Green Tomato Pie was traditional end-of-summer fare when most families grew their own food. Farm wives used cinnamon and ginger to make it taste like apple pie before the apple crop ripened. It’s fun to adjust the seasoning to your pleasure, then serve it and see if anybody can figure out what it is!

Green Tomato Ginger Pie

2 9-inch pie crusts
1 cup sugar
1 organic lemon, juiced, rind grated
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
6 cups green tomatoes, sliced like apples
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

Line a pie dish with a crust, set aside. In a bowl, rub sugar with lemon rind to fragrance point (about 15 seconds). Add flour, salt, and spices, blend well. Stir in egg, vanilla, and lemon juice, add tomatoes and candied ginger and toss gently to coat, layer into pie shell and dot with butter. Top filling with second crust, trim edges, crimp edges, and slash several times to vent steam. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 400 and bake until golden and bubbling (20-25 minutes). Let cool 30 minutes before slicing. Serves at least one.

Vegetarian Pot Pie

This savory version makes a lovely vegetarian pot pie. You can make it heartier by adding cooked, chopped potatoes and carrots, as well as green beans, sweet corn, or sweet potatoes. Use garam masala for a curried version, or chilies and cilantro for a Tex-Mex twist.

Savory Green Tomato Pie

2 9-inch pie crusts
2 tablespoons fruity olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped (with greens)
6 cups green tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon thyme, stemmed
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups vegetable stock, hot

Line a pie dish with a crust, set aside. In a wide, shallow pan, combine oil, butter, and onion over medium high heat and cook for 3 minutes. Add celery, green tomatoes, salt and smoked paprika, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in flour, then add hot stock, blending well. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered for 5 minutes. Spoon into pie shell, top filling with second crust, trim edges, crimp edges, and slash several times to vent steam. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 400 and bake until golden and bubbling (20-25 minutes). Let cool 30 minutes before slicing. Serves 6.

A Spicy Side

This intriguing mixture makes a delicious side for fish or chicken and tastes lovely over brown rice, with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Spicy Green Tomatoes

1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup celery, chopped
4 cups green tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro, stemmed

Cook oil and onion over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper flakes, and cumin and cook for 5 minutes. Add celery and tomatoes, sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with cilantro. Serves 4.

This entry was posted in fall/winter crops, preserving food, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Tomatoes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Tumble of Late Tomatoes

  1. ted hood says:

    Do you have a recipe for green tomato jam or even just tomato jam?

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