Garden Blog

Eating, Saving and Celebrating Tomatoes

Summer tomato recipes and preservation techniques.

This is my favorite time of year to eat! I amble out into the garden in the morning before the heat of the day and pick what we’ll have for dinner.  The ingredients for a mid-summer dinner in this year’s garden are a bit less adventurous than in many years past. These ingredients are somewhat similar to what my grandmother planted: summer squash, garlic, beans of various kinds for steaming and stewing, beets, carrots, peppers, swiss chard, kale, various salad greens, cucumbers, lots of culinary herbs and, of course, tomatoes. Pounds of them. Piles of them!

It used to be summer squash that overwhelmed me until I came up with the revolutionary concept that if I didn’t plant many squash seeds I wouldn’t end up with an overwhelming excess. But this concept doesn’t apply to planting tomatoes in moderation.  It could be genetic. I cannot make myself plant only one or two varieties of tomato plants even if it would save my sanity in the kitchen in late summer.


How to preserve extra tomatoes from the summer garden.


Since I don’t eat commercial tomatoes, and consume mostly my own preserved tomatoes out of season, summer is my time to display unbridled gluttony for a treat that will quickly disappear.  This is that always too short season I attempt to hold onto by preserving its essence in jars and bags.  And that’s the trick. I have to plan time in the kitchen a few times a week in order to keep up with the tomatoes at this time of year.  While I haven’t heard of any tomato addiction support groups, I am sure this is not an isolated condition, and for those of you who share it, my condolences – and a few high fives!

Here’s what we’re eating this summer:

Breakfast: Pink (Brandywine, Big Dwarf, German Johnson) tomatoes in scrambled eggs with other veggies and local cheese; red tomato jam (Cherry Sweetie) on anything; plain old sliced tomatoes; sliced tomatoes in a breakfast sandwich with eggs and local cheese.

Lunch: Sandwiches! BLTs with substitutions like, Abe Lincoln sliced (forgive me Abe) with arugula or endive and halumi (a Greek frying cheese); grilled cheese with Moscovich, or perhaps some lovely black or purple tomatoes. Salads: Well …. endless possibilities: Dr. Wyche chopped with cucumbers and parsley; buttercrunch or Jericho lettuce tossed with cherry tomatoes and ripe figs; chopped tomatoes of any kind in a garlic rubbed bowl with mint, parsley, cucumbers and feta. Cold Soups: Any variation on gazpacho or bloody mary soup with all the ingredients of the cocktail minus the alcohol.

Fresh garden tomatoes are great for salads, pasta sauces, tomato sandwiches, endless possibilities.

Fresh Salad with Mountain Princess and Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomatoes 

Dinner: Salads… Big slicers on mozzarella drizzled with pesto; basic salad with lettuce, cucumber, tomato and anything else that is lying around – like summer squash, beets, carrots, cooked or not; tomato-watermelon, or -peach salad with cherry tomatoes in a mild dressing; salsa fresca served with crudités or chips; chopped tomatoes to add to guacamole, with cucumbers and cilantro, or with fish. Soups: Sweet corn and tomato soup (veggie broth) with or without a protein. Manhattan clam chowder; plain old tomato soup or bisque. Entree: Endless pastas with imaginative tomato sauces; homemade pizza; stir fries with tomatoes thrown in at the end; tomatoes sliced or wedged on top of any protein from the grill sprinkled with basil oil or pesto of any kind; dry or greasy beans cooked with tomatoes and served on rice.

I dry and can the leftover tomatoes in small batches so as to keep the task manageable.  And sometimes, as I exercise the great privilege of preserving excess food, I am overcome with gratitude and deeply humbled to find myself in the position of having such a “problem”.

Paul Robeson Tomato seeds available at Sow True Seed Asheville NC.

Paul Robeson Tomato 

Happy Eating!