The Great Tomato Harvest
It’s that time again. Tomatoes are overflowing off the tables at farmers’ markets; tomato plants are weighed down by the abundant fruit they’ve produced. There are so many varieties and colours to try.
I grew an heirloom variety this year that has produced yellow cherry-sized tomatoes that taste sweet and tangy at the same time. My other plants are more conventional — Roma and San Marzano — but no less delicious. So far this year, yield has been low and slow. That’s just fine by me. I’m not sure I’d be able to keep up with faster growth. In other years I’ve had so much yield that I experimented with drying the tomatoes, adding them to ratatouille and preserving jars of it and enjoying them fresh in salads, sandwiches and pasta recipes.
Want to try something a little different this weekend? You can throw a tomato tasting party. Buy several baskets of tomatoes, each one of a different type. Slice the tomatoes and label each variety. Allow your guests to try each variety raw. Then, provide a sampling of your favourite dishes that feature the tomatoes. Give these a try!
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter, cold
2/3 cup lard
1/2 cup ice water
1-1/4 lbs tomatoes (Roma or San Marzano, or any type that contains few seeds), sliced into 1/4-inch slices
3 Tbsp pesto
4 oz goat cheese
1 cup 35% cream
1. In a pan set over medium heat, cook pine nuts, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes; let cool.
2. In a bowl, combine flours, thyme and salt. Cut butter and lard into the flour mixture until pieces are pea-sized. Stir in pine nuts. With a fork, stir in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until flour mixture comes together.
3. Gather dough together and form into a ball; divide in half. Flatten each half; wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
4. Dust countertop with flour; roll out dough into 11-inch rounds. Fit each into a 9-inch tart pan. Cover crust with foil and pour dried beans onto the foil as pie weights. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Remove beans and foil.
5. Lay tomato slices in an overlapping pattern in the pie crusts. Bake until tomatoes look dry at the edges, about 15 minutes.
6. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, pesto, goat cheese and a pinch of salt. Whisk in cream. Carefully pour mixture over two tomato tarts. Bake until custard has set, about 25 minutes.
Serve warm or cold with a chilled rosé.
1 cup sugar
3 lbs tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into small pieces
6 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1. In a small pot, heat sugar and water until boiling. Cool completely.
2. Purée tomatoes. Strain them through a sieve into a bowl; discard residue.
3. Combine tomato purée with the sugar syrup and the basil. Pour into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Otherwise, pour into a container; stir frequently until set.
Serve when it is just softly frozen.
Other tomato-serving tips:
• Add puréed tomato to soups.
• Combine puréed tomato with yogurt, basil, lemon juice and salt; use as a dressing for fish.
• Stir puréed tomato together with olive oil, vinegar and salt; use as a salad dressing.
• Hollow out Beefsteak tomatoes and fill the cavity with pasta salad.