I may not have a garden this year, but I remember all too well the abundance of tomatoes and the yearly scramble to decide what to do with them all. It seemed some years like I would never get through the endless pile of tomatoes that littered my table, the counters, and every other available surface.
In truth it is not the abundance of tomatoes that is so much the problem, I knew how to can them all into a variety of tasty tomato goodness that would last us through the winter. The real problem for me, is that I would get so caught up in canning everything that we would forget to take the time to enjoy all those tomatoes at their very best. Nothing beats a vine ripe tomato and fortunately there a dozens of ways to enjoy them in season.
If you are looking for some great books to make better use of your tomato harvest, I love this the Tomato: A Fresh from the Vine Cook Book. You will find a wide range of dishes that either feature tomatoes or that use fresh tomatoes as an important part of the recipes. There are also a few canning recipes included if you just have to add a few more jars to your pantry.
Another fun book for the adventurous is The Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook, this book has recipes from around the world as well as basic instructions on processing and preserving the harvest. These recipes span the globe so if you are looking for something unique this book can probably provide it.
In a family of salsa lovers, fresh salsa is always the best. There are several different styles of salsas you can find recipes for. Traditional fresh salsa is spicy, uncooked, as well as fresh and tasty. There are also cooked versions of this condiment for those who prefer this style of salsa. If you want to walk on the wild side a bit, there are a wide range of salsas that have everything from fruit to black beans in it.
Our version of salsa takes into consideration the fact that everything comes from the garden, fresh, the same day. It is simple, but when everything is harvested out of your own garden it is an oh so wonderful treat.
Garden Fresh Salsa
Approximately 3 cups of tomatoes diced
4 green onions, Chopped
1/2 cup of green pepper chopped
3 Jalapenos Seeding and chopped fine (adjust this ingredient for more or less heat)
2 TBs Cilantro minced
2 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
Seed and chop tomatoes, and dice all other ingredients. Place in a large bowl and mix until combined. Cover bowl and chill for 1 1/2 hours before serving.
This recipe is so easy, and all of these ingredients (except the lime juice) grow easily in the garden.
Tip – Be sure to sow a late crop of cilantro to ensure that you have a fresh harvest when your tomatoes are ready.
You can also find other fresh tomato recipes in these books –
The Salsa Lovers Cookbook has more than 180 recipes, so you are sure to find the perfect salsa recipe.
Salsas and Tacos is wonderful for those that are looking for authentic southwestern cuisine. It offers a number of salsa recipes as well as all the extras to go with it.
Finally The Great Salsa book is a salsa lover’s recipe book. We love this book, it is our go to book for everything salsa.
Grilling fresh tomatoes imparts a natural sweet smoky taste. These tomatoes are great to eat as is or they can be used in a variety of different recipes such as burgers, sandwiches, and casseroles.
3 Pounds of plum tomatoes cored, halved, and seeded
3 tbs of olive oil
Fresh thyme, chopped
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat grill to as hot as possible. Toss tomatoes in olive oil and seasonings and then place them on skewer. Place tomatoes cut side down on the grill and cook until soft and well grilled. Turn frequently, and cook for approximately 10 minutes per side.
Serve on Skewer as a side dish, or remove from skewers and cut into small pieces for adding to recipes.
Fresh Tomatoes Sandwich Style
Tomatoes make the perfect addition to any sandwich but when the tomato harvest comes in and you are picking vine ripe tomatoes these beauties need to be the centerpiece of any sandwich you make. Tomato sandwiches are an old favorite in farm country and taste best when make on fresh homemade bread. You can make your sandwich simple with nothing more than tomatoes and mayo or you can go all out by making a special sauce or adding cheese, avocado, lettuce, or onions.
One very fresh, vine ripened tomato (no substitutes here, it just won’t be the same if you use a store bought tomato)
4 slices of bread
1/2 cup mayonnaise
5-10 chopped Basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
A dash of ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
Mix everything together except tomatoes and bread in a bowl until well combined. Slather mayo mixture on the bread and add the tomatoes. Add any extras you might want and then close sandwich and cut into quarters.
Tip: This sandwich is great with nothing but the tomatoes but is also excellent with thinly sliced cucumbers, lettuce, and onion.
There is no end to the things you can do with stuffed tomatoes. Tuna, rice, sausage, orzo, quinoa are just a few of the things that go good in a tomato. We prefer cold recipes over heated ones, just because it takes advantage of the juicy, sweeten of a fresh tomato. Tuna Stuffed tomatoes are simple, fast, and a nice change of pace for hot evenings when cooking is not desirable. Just because tuna stuffed tomatoes are common does not mean you need to go with a common recipe, spice up your tuna for a great meal.
4 large tomatoes
2 cans of tunafish
Half cup of chopped, seeded cucumber
3 tbsp chopped sweet onion
8 black olives chopped
Drizzle olive oil
Hard boiled egg chopped
Drain tuna and place in a medium sized bowl. Combine cucumbers, onion, egg, and olives in the bowl with the tuna. Add a few drizzles of olive oil and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stuff tomatoes with tuna mixture. Serve cold.
Optionally: Add a bit of shredded parmesan or cheddar to the top and place them under the broiler until the cheese melts.
Fresh Tomatoes and Pasta
Tomatoes and pasta are meant for each other, but pasta is made all the more sweet when you use fresh tomatoes. The great thing about fresh tomatoes and pasta is a dish can be as simple or as complex as you want it and still taste great. There is no need to spend hours cooking sauce in order to get all of the flavor you want. This very simple recipes is perfect to use after long days in the kitchen canning.
1/4 cup basil fresh, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds plum tomatoes
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
6 cups of cooked pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste
Saute garlic until it just starts to turn brown, chop tomatoes and add to garlic. Cook mixture for approximately 3 minutes or until tomatoes start to soften. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until well combined.
Simple Toppings for Delicious Tomatoes Ala Carte
I have always believe that the best recipes are those which are the simplest. If you have not cut up a fresh picked tomato and eaten it lightly salted you don’t know what you are missing. If just tomatoes and salt is not good enough for you, there are plenty of toppings which can make your tomatoes amazing.
1) Put a dash of Italian dressing or your favorite salad dressing on sliced tomatoes.
2) Drizzle a small amount of pesto mixed with vinegar on top of your fresh sliced tomatoes.
3) Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, then drizzle with olive oil.
4) Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and put under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.
5) Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with lemon thyme.
6) Purchase infused oils to drizzle over your tomato slices.
It’s Time to Try Those Fried Green Tomatoes
If you grew up in the south there is a good chance you know what fried green tomatoes are and have eaten them a few times. If not, you may not have been brave enough to try what is actually a tasty treat. While it might seem counterintuitive to cook and eat unripened tomatoes, but the truth is that these green tomatoes are perfect for this dish because they are firmer and dryer than their older cousins. This is the perfect way to use end of the season tomatoes that did not fully ripen.
Tip: Do not use tomatoes that ripen to a green or yellow color, unless you are certain they are in an unripened state. This dish is not so much about the color of the tomato as it is about its stage of ripeness. Always choose green, very firm tomatoes.
2 large unripe tomatoes cut in 1/2 inch slices
1/4 of a cup of flour
1 cup bread crumbs (panko crumbs works great for this)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Oil or fat of your choice (good choices include olive oil, bacon grease and butter)
Preheat oil to 350 degrees. The best pan for this is a cast iron frying pan. Mix the flour, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a shallow bowl. In a second bowl beat the egg. Add bread crumbs in a third bowl. Dredge tomatoes in flour, then dip in eggs and finally in the bread crumbs. Fry in hot oil until they turn a nice golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with ranch dressing.