Even though summer is starting to draw to a close, this is the best time of year for garden goodies. At my house all we have gotten around to planting, well, ever, really, is tomato plants. For the past few weeks the tomatoes have started to get big and beautiful, and I have been eating them non stop.
At a recent bridal shower I was seated next to a lady who lamented about how many BLT’s she had been making at home to eat up all the fresh tomatoes that she had. this launched in to a discussion of just what else you can do with those gorgeous tasty tomatoes we have in abundance this time of year. I say it is time to enjoy them for all you can, because soon enough all we will have access to are store bought tasteless varieties shipped in from who-knows-where.
First off, BLT’s. Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, on toast with mayo, or Miracle Whip, whichever you prefer. I however, am not a fan of mayo, and even LESS of a fan of Miracle Whip, so I prefer to mash up a little avocado as my “condiment” choice on BLT’s. I also like to tell myself that this is “healthier” because it has natural, heart healthy fats, instead of the “bad” fat on mayo. This is the great art of self deception, because the sandwich I am putting the avocado on is a BLT, and the main ingredient is BACON for Pete’s sake.
Now, on the bacon aspect, I refuse to use turkey bacon in my BLT’s, mostly because I think it tastes like a greasy piece of toasted construction paper. If, for health or religious reasons you shy away from pork bacon, I say just make a grilled tomato sandwich.
It has been a challenge this summer to find the right brand of bacon to make the best BLT’s. It seems that the grocery industry has come up with a genius bacon packaging system in which the pieces look meaty on the outside, but when you get it home and open it up, its is all fat in the inside. So how can you choose the best one? BLT’s are such a rare treat in summer. I want the fat and calories consumed to be worth it based on the taste
So, what else can you do with those big beautiful, tasty tomatoes before they disappear, and that does not include bacon?
I was invited to dinner at my good friend Kristin’s house a few weeks ago and she made a tomato and mozzarella salad that I have basically become obsessed with ever since. She cut up the fresh tomatoes into big chunks, and added them into a bowl with sliced red onions and pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese. She then poured olive oil and some red wine vinegar over the top, added some basil, salt and pepper, and stirred it all together until it was all coated.
The salad was juicy and I couldn’t get enough! I made it as part of dinner three times in a week. It is so easy to make you can pretty much eye ball the ingredient amounts to your taste, and it seems that one large tomato makes one big serving. I believe that if you add chunks of day old Italian bread to this mix you get something of a panzella, and there is plenty of juice at the bottom of the mixture to mop up with lots of tasty bread.
The latest dish I have made with the tomatoes from my yard was a spaghetti sauce. First I coated six large tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them under the broiler in a pan. I removed the charred skins and pureed them in the blended with some of the juices they gave off during roasting. I sauteed up onions and garlic, added the tomato puree and some basil, simmered for a while, and voila! Super tasty fresh tomato sauce.
Now, if only I knew how to can!
We had started out with three tomato plants. One was one of the hanging tomato plants. An early June thunderstorm toppled it’s support system, so we moved it to the earth. One plant however, has taken over and become the “King” tomato plant. It actually killed off another plant next to it! The King is huge now, looking more like a tree or bush. Maybe I should start calling it Seymour?
Lately the tomatoes coming in on our plants have even intrigued my five month old puppy named Lulu. She is a “Goldendoodle,” which is what they used to call a “mutt” but now is called a designer dog, as she is a mix between a Standard Poodle and a Golden Retriever. Every time she goes out into the yard she makes a trip over to the tomato plants to sniff them. About a month ago, she snuck into the house with something in her mouth, upon further investigation it turned out to be a tiny tomato she must have stole off of one of the plants. Maybe she thought it was a ball because she didn’t eat it? However, recently she developed a taste for the green tomatoes, so I have to keep an eye on her when she goes near the plants. Even the summer tomatoes are irresistible to dogs!
I think next up I am going to try making fried green tomatoes, if I can ever remember to stop and get corn meal. Do you have any more suggestions for tasty ways to use up and enjoy my bountiful summer tomato crop? Or would anyone like to teach me how to can?