‘Tis the season where we wonder what the heck will I do with all these tomatoes?

If your garden is like ours, come late August, we end up with a dozen or two heirloom tomatoes ripening on our kitchen counter, with dozens more cherry, and countless other tomato varieties ripening on the vine.

And, if you are like us, we hate to waste those tasty beauties, but there is a limit to the number of tomato sandwiches we can eat or tomato sauce to be frozen for those winter months!  What to do?

Of course you can make salsas, catsup, gazpacho, stuffed tomatoes, pizza, and more.  Following are two more suggestions for you to try.

FRESH TOMATOES

Spaghetti-with-cherry-tomato-sauce-mozzarella-and-basil-4

We really try to take advantage of our fresh tomatoes and go beyond the BLT.

Our favorite these days is a very simple dish, easy and quick to make and Oh, so delicious!

Here is the recipe:

  • Dry pasta cooked al dente (linguine works well). Choose your favorite and cook enough for 4 persons.
  • 1 cup of fresh tomatoes cut in 1” pieces (or cherry tomatoes cut in half)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • 250 g of fresh mozzarella cut in 1 inch pieces (choose a quality fresh Mozzarella, it will make all the difference in the flavour and texture of your dish)
  • ¼ cup of good quality olive oil
  • Fresh basil to taste (we love lots of it!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  • Cook the pasta.
  • While the pasta is boiling, chop the zucchini, onion and red pepper roughly and, in a large pan, fry them in a tablespoon of oil or butter.
  • Once the pasta is ready, drain but don’t rinse, as we need the pasta to be on the warmer side to melt the cheese.
  • Remove pan from heat, add the pasta, the cut tomatoes and the mozzarella to the fried vegetables and toss.
  • Serve hot and drizzle some olive oil on each serving.

Voilà!

DRIED TOMATOES

driedtomatoescomp1

One way we like to conserve our tomatoes is to dry them.  It is easy, they keep well, and, can be added to just about any dish that wants some rich flavor.  Sandra makes a wicked dried tomato pesto!

If you don’t have a dehydrator you can still dry them in your oven.  You take 7 to 8 lbs. of ripe tomatoes, salt to taste and if you wish you can add some dried herbs of your choice (basil, oregano, thyme).  We prefer them naked, without any added flavours.

TOMATO PREPARATION

  • Cut out the stem, any scars, and the hard portion of core.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise. If the tomato is more than about 2 inches long, cut it in quarters.
  • Scrape out all of the seeds that you can without removing the pulp.
  • Mix together thoroughly basil, oregano, thyme, and salt.
  • Sprinkle a small amount of this mixture on each tomato.

OVEN-DRYING (approximately 12 hours)

  • Arrange the tomatoes, with the cut surface up, on non-stick cookie sheets (glass or porcelain dishes are OK). Do not use aluminum foil or aluminum baking sheets as the acid in the tomato will react with the metal.
  • Bake in 170°F oven for about 3 hours.
  • Leave the oven door propped open about 3 inches to allow moisture to escape.
  • After 3 hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat with your hand or a spatula.
  • Continue to dry, turning the tomatoes every few hours, and gently pressing flatter and flatter, until tomatoes are dry.

We store ours in the freezer and use them over the winter in many recipes.  It’s like having a little bit of summer in your meal.

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