When the Tomato Harvest is Too Much, Get Creative
When every garden in town is exploding with tomatoes, and even the Topsy Turvy tomato grower on your patio is producing Sweet 100s faster than you can consume them, it’s time to get creative with your tomato usage.
Luckily, tomatoes are the Meryl Streep of the vegetable world—gorgeous, utterly versatile, and conversant with the many languages of the world. They are as easy to enjoy fresh from the vine as in a fancy entrée. In a sauce, they can fade into the background or take center stage. The important thing is not to let nature’s bounty to go to waste.
Herewith are 50 ways to manage your tomato problem.
1. Eat off the vine with a little salt.
2. Dice and add to plain pasta and toss with a bit of olive oil, some basil leaves, and grated Parmesan cheese.
3. Whip of a batch gazpacho, the classic cold soup from Spain based on tomatoes and cucumbers and flavored with sherry vinegar.
4. Make homemade tomato soup to remind you of your childhood.
5. Chop some tomatoes and cucumbers, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with grilled fish and corn on the cob.
6. Pack a loved one’s lunchbox with a container of chickpea & tomato salad 7. Cut corn off the cob. Combine with finely minced jalapenos, chopped tomatoes, salt, and lime or lemon juice.
8. Got a hunk of high-quality fresh mozzarella cheese? Make Insalata Caprese.
9. If you have an abundance of eggplant as well as tomatoes, try tomato and grilled eggplant salad.
10. Day-old bread tastes best when it’s in Panzanella.
11. Easy weeknight meals for a year? Use your bumper crop of tomatoes for your own tomato sauce
14. Place dried tomatoes in a food processor with a couple of cloves of garlic. Puree with enough olive oil to make a paste. Add pecorino Romano cheese. Voila—sundried tomato pesto.
15. There’s nothing better on a tortilla chip than the chunky fresh salsa known as pico de gallo.
16. Mexican food fans will want to make cooked salsa in quantity and freeze to use throughout the winter.
17. Tired of plain tomato sauce? Try the thick, French-inspired sauce tomato coulis.
18. Slide a couple of juicy slices of tomato into your next grilled cheese sandwich.
19. Tomato season is the best time for a classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.
20. Not a meat-eater? Use your favorite vegetarian bacon substitute, like Smoky Bacon Marinated Tempeh, to make a vegan bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.
21. Who is best friends with bacon and tomatoes? Avocado, of course. Marry them for the unfortunately named (but highly delicious) BLAT sandwich.
22. When the frost hits and there are still green tomatoes on the vine, don’t despair, pickle them.
23. Why settle for ketchup on your burger when you can put up some sweet/savory tomato jam?
24. Make your next Indian meal sing with a batch of tomato chutney.
25. Dehydrate tomatoes in your convection oven or a food dehydrator. 26. Slow-roasted tomatoes freeze great. Just halve Roma tomatoes, put on baking sheet cut side up, drizzle with olive oil and sliced garlic, roast at 250 degrees for three hours.
Entrees and Sides
27. Next time you fire up the grill, toss on some tomatoes.
28. Bread, olive oil, and tomatoes make up the rustic Italian summer treat called bruschetta.
29. Have you tried the classic Southern fried green tomatoes?
30. Get creative with fillings for stuffed tomatoes. Try everything from rice to bulgur wheat to ground beef, to fruit and cheese.
31. Camping wouldn’t be camping without a pot of chili made with fresh tomatoes.
32. Have breakfast for dinner with a tomato omelet.
33. Impress your dinner party guests with a sky-high tomato napoleon.
34. Everything tastes better when you put it in a pie crust, especially cheesy tomato pie.
35. As long as you’re making a pie crust, you might as well make tomato quiche.
36. Of all the tomato-based ways to top pasta, pureed roasted tomatoes may be our favorite.
37. Ratatouille is more than just a kids’ movie—it’s a savory vegetable stew that is tasty hot or cold and goes best with a crusty loaf of French bread and a nice dry white wine.
38. Those tomatoes you dried? Try them in a risotto. It will be worth all the stirring.
Dessert and Beverages
39. Packaged tomato juice has irresponsible levels of sodium. But if you make your own, you can control how much salt you put into it.
40. House-made Bloody Mary Mix will make any brunch an event to remember.
41. Frozen tomato slushy on a hot summer day? Don’t mind if I do.
42. Tomatoes are appropriate for every eating occasion. Try candied cherry tomatoes for dessert.
43. Remove skin, cut open, remove seeds, flatten, and cut out decorative shapes for garnishes.
44. If that isn’t fancy enough for you, make a tomato rose.
45. Into molecular gastronomy? Make fresh tomato juice caviar spheres using sodium alginate.
46. In the 1990s, the darling of four-star chefs was tomato water.
47. Crafty folks can use their tomato bounty to make a batch of tomato soap (not soup).
48. Tomatoes can help dry out oily skin. Use them to make a skin care mask.
49. Save the seeds of your favorite tomatoes for planting next year.
50. Sing about them: Get up in the mornin’, go out in the garden. Get you a ripe one; don’t get a hard one.