One way I used up a ton of tomatoes (and a ton of time) was making ketchup. I used the recipe in my New York Times Cookbook — and found the result nearly inedible. I don’t feel the need to track the recipe down now, but let me be clear about the problem: any time a ketchup recipe instructs you to add cloves, add no more than 1/4 what it says, and by no means add a full tablespoon!
I was in serious danger of committing serious waste. How did I use it up? Added lots of tomato paste, and used it in meatloaf.
There was a New York Times recipe that served me well: Tomato Eclairs. This was probably one of the most unique ways I used tomatoes, and boy was it fun! They didn’t come out terribly beautiful, which may be why I can’t track down any photos. But what a great brunch item! I even had leftover ricotta that I made fresh earlier in the week.
One thing I want to note that may seem obvious is that these are really only good fresh. Like many pastries, the eclair loses texture and flavor with the refrigeration required to keep these safely for any length of time. I planned poorly and was the only one there to eat the fresh eclairs. Next summer, I will make them again for witnesses!
This post will focus on one particular ingredient: fresh tomatoes. Last spring I planted several tomato plants, both the plum variety and juicy round ones. I don’t know if I have especially fertile soil in my yard, if these plants are a particularly hardy breed, or if I do have a special touch, but I had a stellar crop for the second year in a row. My life became a mission to keep these from going to waste. For some weeks, I measured at least a pound of tomatoes becoming ripe on a daily basis. I was seeding, dicing, blanching, stewing, and freezing as fast as I could. Here are some of the ways I put tomatoes to good use.
Oven-dried “sun-dried” tomatoes. I referenced allrecipes but all that says is bake for 200 degrees until you think the texture is right. Mine probably took 10-11 hours. I wasted too much time reading the debate over how to store these, ultimately deciding to freeze them in a baggie. They did just fine.
Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Tomato and Basil Salad – I thank my farm share for this inspiration. I generally avoid cold soups, but after this refreshing version perhaps I’ll give them more of a chance. Basil is another plant that thrives in my garden in the summer. And though I didn’t grow cucumber myself this year, my neighbor bestowed me with an enormous one from his garden. (This was after I had pushed some of my tomatoes on him previously.) Neighbors sharing what they have in abundance — I love it!
No recipe needed!