While gardeners closer to the tropics are watching their fall crop set fruit, those of us in zone 7 are rebounding from the worst of the hot weather and are neck deep in late summer tomatoes. It is not a bad problem to have. Here are a few ideas for making the most of the harvest.
First up is a spicy tomato jam. Tomato jam recipes are pretty common out there, but if you grind up a chipotle pepper, either a canned or dried one, and add that hot little morsel into your regularly-scheduled plain old preserve, you will have a fabulously sweet, smoky, and spicy condiment. The traditional hot pepper jelly on cream cheese has met its equal with this one. Use it on grilled cheese, in a baked brie, on savory pancakes, or pretty much anywhere you would use a chutney. Fantastic.
If you are in the mood for Cantonese, give this southern Chinese tomato dish a try. The recipe I used is for beef and tomato, but I made it with soy “chicken” instead. The literal secret sauce in this dish is homemade ketchup. This one is spicy, is sharpened with homemade red wine vinegar, and comes from Jonathon Sawyer‘s cookbook. It adds depth and complexity to the sauce, and, honestly, makes it feel more like cold weather food than summer fare. Perfect for the fall.
Most tomato gardeners have their favorite ways to use the fresh fruit. I found two new-to-me ideas for interesting salad dressings this season, the first of which hails from Turkey. Pomegranate molasses goes beautifully with tomatoes, and when combined with sumac, olive oil, and lemon, there is a brightness to this salad that is just plain delicious. The second idea stirs za’atar into the dressing as well. Gorgeous. In both cases, you can make the traditional salad per the recipe, but you can also use the dressing on any combination of tomatoes and greens. Toss on some nuts and a little cheese, and you may not even want a “main” to go with it.
There are always the tried and true ideas, like breakfast tacos. Onion, tomato, egg, and whatever seasonings strike your fancy that morning. These have some hot sauce and fresh goat’s milk cheese in there, too.
If you’ve ever had a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, you know how the jammy, cooked tomato adds just the right amount of acidity. Tuck a few slices into your next quesadilla. Quick, easy, and delicious.
I’m going to encourage everyone (once again) to try what have become the summer staple tomato dishes for me, paellas and tarts. Load up and eat them until you don’t want to see another tomato for the rest of your life. That emotion may hold until late December, or maybe January, and then the seed catalogs will come out and dreams of home-grown tomatoes will begin again. Enjoy!