Roasting The Garden

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From Peaches To Tomatoes

Eastern Washington peaches are amazingly delicious this year, and I feel blessed to be gifted with a dozen fat, juicy ones that were utterly ripe and a further dozen that were still on the green side. After making a delectable tart, some conserves, and chutney, I decided to roast the remainder. I know grilled peaches have their fans, but roasting in a rimmed pan keeps all those lush juices in play and the result can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Recent rains and wild winds brought me a great tumble of green tomatoes along with a big basketful of ripe ones. The ripe ones went into salads and fresh pasta sauce that freezes beautifully. I also made some green tomato pickles, one of my favorite condiments, and saved the rest for slow roasting, which brings out the latent sweetness in pretty much anything.

Roasted Peaches

1 tablespoon avocado oil
4 skinned, thickly sliced very firm peaches
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Gently rub peach slices with oil and place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and bake until slightly caramelized (20-25 minutes), stirring once or twice. Season to taste with either option or serve as is. Makes about 4 cups. Leftovers freeze beautifully.

End Of Summer Chutneys

When ripe mangoes are scarce, I use dried mango “cheeks” instead. Soak the brittle slices in a little hot water until they plump up, then chop them into bite-sized bits before stirring them into the chutney.

Peach & Mango Chutney

1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 large onions, halved and thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups chopped firm peaches
2 cups peeled, chopped fresh or dried mango
2-3 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup apple cider vinegar

In a deep saucepan, heat oil with onions, garlic, pepper flakes and sea salt over medium high heat until barely soft (3-5 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, until soft and thick (45-60 minutes). Bottle and seal as for jam or use fresh, refrigerating leftovers for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 4-5 cups.

Green Tomato Chutney

1 teaspoon avocado oil
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
6 green cardamom pods
2 white or yellow onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 cups green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
I cup golden raisins
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar

In a deep pan, heat oil, seeds, and pods over medium high heat to the fragrance point (1-2 minutes).  Add onions, garlic, ginger, and salt and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and raisins and cook until soft (10-15 minutes). Add vinegar and sugar and cook for 20 minutes. Remove green cardamom pods, pour chutney into sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 5 cups.

Preserving Ripe Tomatoes  

Home grown tomatoes often ripen in a rush, leaving the cook with a pantry full of produce that won’t wait. While drying or canning are the usual methods, I’ve had good luck freezing roasted tomatoes for up to three months, especially when prepared without seasonings that can develop off-flavors in the freezer.

Roasted Reds

2 quarts medium red tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Rub each tomato, (skin side only) with oil, then place them cut-side-down in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F until soft and edges are lightly caramelized (about an hour). Pack in jars as is and seal or puree first for a smoother sauce. Freeze for up to 3 months (use straight-sided jars and leave an inch of head room). Makes about 4 cups.

A Family Favorite Pasta Sauce

Thawed or just made, pureed Roasted Reds are luscious in Spunky Red Sauce, which tastes like you spent hours making it but cooks up in minutes. Serve over pasta, quinoa, or rice and prepare to receive complements.

Spunky Red Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small carrot, coarsely grated
2 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cups pureed roasted tomatoes (thawed if frozen)
2 teaspoons capers, drained

In a sauce pan, heat oil, garlic, onion, salt and paprika over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add olives and cook for 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and cook until barely tender (3-4 minutes). Add chopped tomatoes, bring to a simmer, add roasted tomato puree and capers, bring to a simmer and serve at once over pasta or rice. Serves 4. Some plate licking may be involved…

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4 Responses to Roasting The Garden

  1. Marie Clair says:

    I would like to email you 3 photos of a plant to ID. I do not see a way to do that – or I don’t know the trick if there is one. Can you please contact me on my email so I can then write again and send the photos. Thank you. Marie Clair

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi there, you might try taking your pix to a master gardener clinic and/or an independent nursery for id. It would probably be more reliable and quicker, too. Good luck!

  2. Ed Steeber says:


    I just read your article on control of Himalayan blackberry infestations. You recommend cutting down the canes followed by repeated cutting of new canes as the foliage darkens into efficient phtosysnthetic foliage, thus eventually starving out the roots. Cutting and removing the large canes is obviously necessary, but why would you not resort to spraying re-emergent canes with brushkiller as the means of final control?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Ed,

      I don’t ever use brush killer and similar products, since they harm both the soil and any insects/birds/wildlife that come into contact with them. My way is effective, uses people power rather than toxic chemicals, and does no harm except to the blackberries. Why pay for using the gym when you can work out for free at home and accomplish worthy work at the same time? It’s a win-win! Also, brush killers are not a “final control” since the deep tap roots persist for many years unless starved out, requiring multiple spray treatments. Besides, whacking things with a machete is more fun than spraying poison (for me, anyway). So there you go!

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