Preserving Ripe Tomatoes

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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 350 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 350 degrees F until soft and edges are lightly caramelized (50-60 minutes). Pack in jars 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.

Thawed or just made, pureed Roasted Reds are luscious in Rich 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.

Rich Red Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cups pureed Roasted Reds (thawed if frozen)
2-3 tablespoons fresh goat cheese, crumbled or Asiago, grated

In a sauce pan, heat oil, garlic, olives and onion over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, add celery and cook until barely tender (3-4 minutes). Add chopped tomatoes, bring to a simmer, add puree, bring to a simmer and serve at once over pasta or  rice, garnished with cheese. Serves 4.

When you have a pan full of fresh, ripe tomatoes, Fresh Tomato Soup With Roasted Corn is a worthy way to celebrate them.  It goes together fast, cooks in minutes, and disappears even faster.   If you didn’t have time to roast corn ahead, just stir in some raw kernels and let them warm up–that will also taste just lovely.

Fresh Tomato Soup With Roasted Corn

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots or cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
6 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped (with juice)
OR canned, diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup roasted corn (see below)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons sour cream (nonfat works fine)

In a soup pot, melt butter in oil over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Ad onion, sprinkle with salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Puree in small batches and return to pan, return to simmer, stir in roasted corn and pepper and serve, garnished with sour cream. Serves 4.

Roasted Corn

2 ears yellow corn (not super sweet), husked

Rinse each ear, wrap individually in waxed paper and microwave on high heat for 3 minutes (or boil in salted water for 3 minutes and drain). Cut kernels from cob as closely as possible and spread them in a single layer on a tea towel. Let dry for an hour (or overnight). Heat a heavy frying pan (cast iron works best) over medium high heat and roast dry corn until slightly blackened, shaking pan often. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to three months. Makes about 2 cups.

Fragrant and lightly spicy, Red Tomato Chutney is a delicious addition to salad dressings and makes an unusual appetizer dip for sliced apples and pears. It’s also lovely spooned over grilled fish or chicken as well as basmati or nutty-tasting Bhutanese red rice. It keeps a long time in the refrigerator and makes a welcome holiday gift.

Red Tomato Chutney

1 teaspoon rice oil or safflower oil
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
6 green cardamom pods
2 white or yellow onions, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 quart ripe tomatoes, sliced in wedges
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 and salt and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until soft (10-15 minutes). Add vinegar and sugar to taste and cook for 20 minutes. Remove green cardamom pods, pour chutney into sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 5 cups.

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