Monday, August 22, 2011

Tomato Riches

This week is going to be a week that is all about tomatoes.

That sounds like an odd thing to say and, really, when I reread it, it is an odd thing to say. However, it’s perfectly true.

You see, on Saturday, before we went to the Herb Festival, my mother and I stopped by her local farmer’s market. Last time I went, I scored a deal on a bushel of tomatillos. I turned those into a large batch of salsa verde which is now residing in my freezer.

Well, this time, the same kind farmer who sold me my bushel of tomatillos offered me a deal on his tomatoes. I had every intention of buying some of his tomatoes because I’m still waiting for what’s left of my heirlooms to ripen as well as all my other tomatoes. He had lovely heirlooms and I planned on getting a few.

Well, he offered to sell me the entire flat of tomatoes for the low price of $6. This ended up being approximately 10 lbs of tomatoes. No, I’m not kidding.

Of course, I said yes. I would have been an idiot not to take him up on his offer. In Jungle Jim’s, a pound of heirlooms typically runs about $4.99/lb so you can see why I was so excited to get my tomatoes.

I carried the tray to my car with my mother’s help. It was quite heavy. It was also quite a lot of tomatoes. I gave my mother a couple and that left me with approximately 9 lbs. Since she’s going off to the UK this week and my dad isn’t much on heirloom tomatoes, I couldn’t persuade her to take any more.

Which means I am going to have a very tomato-y week. I did make one batch of marinara with them which I plan to freeze and enjoy during the winter months. I’m also planning on making some pico de gallo as well as a tomato tart. Tonight, I’m going to try an heirloom tomato and mint salad.

It’s a good way to find creative uses for tomatoes. My goal this summer is to make sure I have some food squirreled away for the winter that makes me feel a little taste of summer when I go to eat it during the cold months. It’ll be nice to open a Ball freezer jar of marinara sauce when it’s defrosted and know that the tomatoes were fresh when it was made and the basil and oregano came straight from the garden. As much as I like the winter, as a veggie lover, I miss the freshness of summer. Sure, thanks to modern technology and preservation methods, you can still buy tomatoes in February in any grocery store. However, they simply don’t taste the same. They don’t have nearly as much flavour and end up being a poor substitute for a tomato fresh picked from the garden.

So, I hope that I’m going to counter that by utilizing my large amount of tomatoes. I find them far more versatile than the tomatillo bushel I had a few weeks ago. It’s far more exciting to have tomatoes. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say but I will admit, vegetables make me very happy. Again, this is a strange thing to admit but it’s the truth. Vegetables force me to get creative with my cooking. I find little more fun than taking my burlap tote to the farmer’s market and filling it to the brim with beets, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and beans. The great thing is that I always end up using every vegetable I buy. I’m not a vegetarian by any means but I could probably live as one if I had to someday.

I realize that my fascination and love for veggies is a little bit of a peculiar thing to blog about. However, it’s Monday and the alternative is for me to blog about how I don’t like Mondays and I find that I do that a little too often. Thus, tomatoes and vegetables seem like a nice alternative. And yes, I realize that technically tomatoes are fruits not vegetables but I find when people point that out, it’s annoying. To me, a fruit is something you can bake in a pie for dessert. You certainly can make a tomato pie or tart but that’s not dessert, that’s an entrĂ©e. You should be able to make ice-cream from fruit to be enjoyed on a hot day from an ice-cream cone. I’m sure some gourmet has made tomato ice-cream but, really, would you want to eat tomato ice cream on the beach?

I know there’s some scientific, herbolistic reason that tomatoes are considered fruits but I think those scientists and herbologists should run the “Ice Cream Equation” by each other next time they designate if something is a fruit or vegetable. Would you go to the store to buy a pint of tomato ice cream? No? Then TOMATOES SHOULDN’T BE FRUIT.

Sorry. I digressed. I actually didn’t realize I felt quite as strongly about the fruit/vegetable classification system. Apparently I do.

Back to my original point: In short, I have to say, there are far, far worse things to deal with than having a large array of tomatoes to use. I’m quite sure I will find a way to use them all up one way or another.

My theory is this, to paraphrase Dale Carnegie: When life gives you a giant box of tomatoes, make marinara. Or Salsa. Or salad. Or a tart.

Happy Tuesday!

1 comment:

Fe said...

What an awesome deal on tomatoes! :) Another thing you may consider doing with them is making some "sun-dried" (or oven-roasted) tomatoes to add to bread, or dips, or whatever. I bet you can preserve it like that too. Anyway, just a suggestion.