Category Archives: Tomatoes

New Plants To Lust After

Last summer I got to try out a new sauce tomato called ‘Saucy Lady’, a cuore di bue type that “melts” into robust sauces when cooked, skins and all. The flavor is just about perfect for a sauce tomato; full bodied and rich with just enough tartness to keep it tasting lively even when cooked and canned. A rather amazing tomato called ‘Get Stuffed!’ has no guts; the stippled red-and-tawny-gold skin covers a sturdy, cup-shaped container for your favorite stuffing mixtures. Slice the top off, fill ‘em up with what have you and bake them until bubbly, or stuff them with salad (pasta or chickpea) for a very pretty brunch dish. As an ardent gardener with very little space these days, I’m especially intrigued by a new category of tomato, the 3-4 foot dwarf indeterminates. Any of this new Super Dwarf series will thrive even in large containers and as we saw last year, they really do continue fruiting well into autumn. Continue reading

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Great Garden Sauces

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. What? But yes, herbs and garlic (especially garlic) can develop off-flavors in the freezer, so the sauce will taste a lot better if you saute your onions, garlic and herbs before adding frozen roasted tomatoes. Luckily, the entire process is extremely simple! Continue reading

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The Tomatoes of High Summer

We all have our favorite summery recipes, from tarts and pizzas to ice cream and cobblers. Many of my favorites come from Italy and France, where I’ve enjoyed some of the best food of my well-fed lifetime. Gazpacho is a perfect example; many recipes try too hard to dazzle and end up tasting of heat and spice rather than their main ingredients. This one is my attempt to recreate a meal at a small Provencal restaurant under the shade of a trailing grape vine, with cicadas creaking away endlessly in the dry heat. Like all very simple food, it’s only as good as the ingredients; made with sun warmed, just-picked garden produce, it’s glorious, especially when served as it was in Provence; at room temperature with a dollop of creamy, subtly savory Basil Sorbet. Continue reading

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Big, Bold Tomato Flavor

For even fuller, brighter flavor, you can also feed tomatoes with kelp extract and a mild (5-5-5) organic fertilizer. If tomato stems break before the fruit has a chance to ripen fully, the problem may be linked to using inadequate water-soluble fertilizers, especially when tomatoes are grown in pots. Liquid seaweed extracts help strengthen weak stems by supporting steady plant growth even when cold nights follow warm days. Kelp combines micronutrients and trace elements with plant hormones and growth stimulants that promote root growth, improve stem and foliage density, and increase chlorophyll production. Kelp extracts also contain traces of sea salt. This turns out to be yet another key to amazing taste. In fact, a single dose of salty seawater (1 cup of seawater per quart of tap water) can improve tomato flavor in particular. Continue reading

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