This year’s hot, dry summer has produced amazing tomatoes, ‘a bumper crop’ according to reports. And although we’ve had tomato recipes in this column before, the ones we are referring to now are the tomatoes coming from your own backyard. So many are being produced this August that bacon sales have hit an all time high as people try for the perfect BLT sandwich.
The perfect tomato requires only a pinch of kosher salt and pepper for the flavour to come through, no matter what the variety. Always keep tomatoes at room temperature when storing, away from direct sunlight.
If you have an abundance of backyard tomatoes, the best and most rewarding thing I did last summer was preserve them in mason jars. I didn’t go crazy with chopping and adding all kinds of spices. I just peeled them and shoved them in jars, so then in the winter, when soup and stew season hit, I could break out ‘fresh’ summer tomatoes, which made a huge difference in the recipe.
To peel ripe tomatoes, use a sharp knife to score an ‘x’ at the bottom; drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, and then remove and plunge into ice cold water (otherwise known as ‘blanching and shocking’). This will enable you to gently remove the skin, and either freeze in bags or preserve in jars.
Finally, we’ve included two recipes here to use up those backyard beauties. Both are tried and true: Pico de Gallo, Spanish for ‘Rooster’s Beak,’ can be used for more than just nachos because it is less watery and Sauce Vierge, or ‘Virgin Sauce’ because the tomatoes are uncooked, is fantastic tossed with fresh cooked pasta or with seafood.
Pico de Gallo Salsa
- 2 cups of tomatoes, diced
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
- Juice of 1-2 limes
- 4 radishes, diced
- 1 jalapeno, diced finely
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp oil
Mix all ingredients together; serve with just about anything from grilled chicken or steak, poached fish and, of course, nachos.
- 2 cups tomatoes, sliced in halves or quarters
- 1/2cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 bunch of basil, finely sliced
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Mix ingredients together and let macerate for 30 minutes, which allows the juices to come out of the tomatoes to produce a sauce.