by Nancy Sweet
I’m starting to get a little nervous when I see the number of green tomatoes I have on my tomato plants in the backyard. I figured six plants would get me a good amount to eat them as often as I like in the summer (which is every day), but I think I’m going to have WAY more than that amount. So, because of that, this year I’ve committed to canning a few of them. I’m going to use as many as I can in fresh recipes, but I plan on processing the rest in a big batch when I get a too-large amount of ripe ones.
I planted a new-to-me tomato this year, which was a U.S. version of the San Marzano tomato. Real San Marzano tomatoes must be grown in Italy, per the government regulation of certain Italian products. This is the same idea that allows for real Parmesan Reggiano and Prosciutto to come from certain areas in Italy; the designation guarantees it meets certain regulated quality standards for that product. San Marzanos are similar to Romas but they have firmer pulp, are a little sweeter, and the seeds are easier to remove, hence making them great for canning and using throughout the winter. For mine, I plan on removing the skins and canning some whole and then running some through a food mill to have simply crushed tomatoes.
Nonetheless, I still plan on eating as many tomato dishes I can this summer before the fresh ones are gone!
Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing
Makes enough for about 4 appetizer portions of 3 tomato slices each
3 decent sized green tomatoes
1 1/2 – 2 cups buttermilk
1 cup AP flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe below)
Slice tomatoes into about 1/4-1/3 inch slices. Put into shallow dish and cover with buttermilk. (You may not need all the buttermilk, or you may need a little more depending on size of your pan – you just want to make sure the tomatoes are pretty much covered with buttermilk.) Let soak at least 10 minutes.
Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in shallow dish. Set up breading station: Tomato/buttermilk dish, next to it seasoned flour, next to that parchment (or wax) paper lined sheet pan or plate.
Add vegetable oil to a heavy skillet so that it is about 1/2 – 1/3 inch deep. Heat on medium until oil reaches 350-360 degrees.
Bread tomatoes. Remove tomato slice from buttermilk and shake off excess liquid. Dredge in seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Set on pan. Continue until all tomatoes have been breaded.
Start frying tomatoes. Depending on size of your pan, add 4-6 tomatoes to pan, but don’t over crowd. Let brown on one side for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.Turn with tongs (be careful to not let grease splatter!) and let brown on the other side another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan with tongs, holding each tomato on end over the pot for a few seconds to allow extra grease to drip off. Set on paper towel lined plate or pan. Lightly season with salt. Continue this way until all tomatoes have been fried.
Serve with blue cheese dressing.
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients except blue cheese in small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stir in crumbled blue cheese. You will have leftover dressing to use in other things. It should keep in the fridge for one week.
Caprese Pasta Salad
1 pound pasta, such as penne
3 cups chopped tomatoes (feel free to use a different sizes, shapes, and colors of tomatoes!)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
big pinches salt and freshly cracked pepper
Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. In meantime, combine tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper. Once pasta is cooked, drain and let sit for just a few minutes so not quite so hot. After it has cooled just a bit, add pasta to bowl with tomatoes. Add in the balsamic vinegar, basil, and any more salt or pepper needed for seasoning. Give it all a big stir and serve.
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Roasted Red Peppers and Feta
Adapted from Serious Eats
4 ripe tomatoes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350°F. Core and hollow out tomatoes, using a melon baller or a teaspoon. Set upside down on paper towels and allow to drain.
Meanwhile, combine feta, roasted peppers, olives, garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Fill tomatoes with feta mixture. Nestle stuffed tomatoes together, right side up, in an 8- by 8-inch baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until tomatoes are tender and slightly wrinkled and the filling is warm, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.
This is the perfect vinaigrette to go with a light summer salad of mixed greens and assorted fresh vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, red peppers, and herbs.
1 medium sized tomato
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano all nice)
Slice the tomato in half crosswise. Give the tomatoes a bit of a squeeze of the sink to force out some of the excess water and seeds. Then, using a hand grater, rub the cut, fleshy side of the tomato on the grater until all of the tomato has been pressed through (except for the skin – this should be left in your hand.)
Add the red wine, shallots, and mustard to the tomato juice/pulp. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Mix in herbs and taste for any other seasoning needed.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Adapted from the New York Times
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds VERY ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 sprigs of fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon slivered fresh basil
Freshly ground pepper
In a wide, nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, basil or thyme sprig, and salt (begin with 1 teaspoon and add more later, tasting until balanced), and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until thick. Pulpy tomatoes like Romas will usually take 20 to 30 minutes. However, if the tomatoes are very juicy, it will take longer for them to cook down. Once desired thickness reached, stir in the slivered fresh basil and some freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts