Wednesday 1 September 2010

What to do with a glut of tomatoes

This really is the best time of the year for fresh produce. Almost too good. Temptation lurks round every corner as I found to my cost when I bought an insane amount at a veg stall in the lovely old-fashioned town of Wells the other day. But the bargains! 6 peppers, 8 apples and 1 1/2 kilos of courgettes for a pound each. Massive trays of plums and, best of all, a 4 kilo tray of tomatoes for £2.

Although we've been munching heroically through healthgiving quantities of veggies since Saturday - much to the disgust of my OH who thinks 1 a day is excessive, never mind 5 - it's the tomatoes that have been the greatest success. Not that they were brilliant in quality. I started off using 500g odd for a ratatouille (you can find the recipe I used on my student website Beyond Baked Beans here) but they were really too small and too unripe to peel easily, thus scotching my initial plan to stash tubfuls of fresh tomato purée in the freezer.

Instead I cut them in half horizontally, laid them out on a well-oiled baking tray, seasoned them with salt, pepper and za'atar and drizzled them with more olive oil. I started them off at the top of the AGA then transferred them to the cool oven for about 3 hours. They came out wonderfully sweet, just like those posh 'Sunblush' ones you buy in cartons. You can obviously just cook them in a low oven if you don't have an AGA.

I blitzed half into a sauce in the food processor and froze that then drizzled more oil over the other half and put them in the fridge. We've been having them bruschetta-style on sourdough toast and they've been delicious but I've found myself thinking of making them into a salad with dressed lentils and parsley, and crumbling some feta on top. I think that's what I'm going to do with the next batch.

I have to say it was all unbelievably satisfying and I felt ridiculously smug at my domestic goddessery. But I still have to finish the rest of my box otherwise my 'bargains' won't be as brilliant as they seemed.

Have you been cooking up any seasonal produce like tomatoes in bulk? Or pickling or preserving? Do share any good tips.


Anonymous said...

Poor Trevor!

Still, the blush tomatoes look fantastic. Perhaps you should bring some on Thursday :)

j x

Fiona Beckett said...

Nice idea but suspect I'd manage to get olive oil and tomatoes all over my bag. You should give them a try tho' - seriously tasty!

Jean said...

No, I'm pretty rubbish at this sort of thing to be honest. I don't do any preserving or batch cooking *hangs head in shame*. I also only have a very small freezer which makes it difficult to store batches of food.

I have been out twice this week with my 10 year old daughter picking blackcurrants out of the hedgerows, which she promptly ate on the walk home. Still, it goes some way to getting her 5-a-day sorted out!

Fiona Beckett said...

Well, I don't do it as often as I should notsupermum. Hence feeling as smug as I did. When you do get to upgrade your freezer tho' I think it's worth getting a bigger one. It's a great way to store bargains and food you've made which means no cooking some other night!

Kavey said...

I did something similar to preserve some of our homegrown, though without the za'atar... worked really well though didn't do many as wasn't sure whether they'd freeze well and we were going away. Did put some in a jar in oil, will see how they come out.

Rest of garden toms went into freezer raw as they were - I find it easy to skin them by taking them out frozen, leaving them a minute or two so outside mm defrosts and then the skin just slips off the frozen tomato.

And I make tomato ketchup too!

Fiona Beckett said...

Good tip about putting them in the freezer Kavey. I tend not to as they go watery but are of course perfectly fine for a sauce. And VERY impressed about the ketchup. That I haven't made.