Late August has its drawbacks, the diminishing days and back-to-school rush being the main ones, but surely the tomatoes coming into their own makes up for a lot of that. If you live anywhere other than Western Washington, you've been enjoying more tomatoes than you can handle for weeks now, but for home-farmers here in Bellevue, it's only just hit us now. Now is our time. Tomatopalooza time.
Only now can we finally be generous when neighbors and friends look longingly at our fruits. When only two or three ripening tomatoes peeked through the foliage, then it was tough Toasties for them, but now we hand them out and pretend we had generous hearts all along.
The cherry tomatoes came first, of course, but now that the big boys have followed, who has time for mere cherry tomatoes?
Supposing you too had a moment of clarity in the spring and thought, "Wait a sec--this year I'm not planting zucchini. Everyone hates zucchini, almost as much as they hate neighbors who grow zucchini. I'm going to plant tomatoes instead, that I might be the object of envy in my neighborhood, and that everyone might suck up to me in the effort to share in my abundance."
If that was you, I have a few recipes for you, now that you've made all the new best friends you could hope for and find that Tomatopalooza continues.
I've told you about pico de gallo here.
And the canned version to put by here.
Then there's the easy homemade tomato sauce here, if you happen to own a food mill.
This was the same tomato sauce I used to accompany meatballs made from leftover beef brisket! (I would include that recipe, Jacques Pepin's Boulettes, except they were not a hit. I don't blame Jacques. The brisket I ground up wasn't a hit either, when I served it the first time.)
I find that my 17YO daughter doesn't care for fresh tomatoes, unless they appear as bruschetta topping, thus.
And not a single one of my kids will touch baked tomatoes, although my husband and I love them.
And lastly I leave you with the perfect accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwich: fresh tomato soup. Fresh tomato soup tastes like summer in a bowl and is the perfect thing to weep into as you look ahead to the school year.
Deborah Madison's Summer Tomato Soup
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced sweet onion
5 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into big pieces
salt and pepper
Melt the butter over low heat in a soup pot. Add the onions and let cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, along with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 cup water. Cover and let cook for 3-4 hours. Stir every once in a while to make sure nothing sticks. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill into a clean pot.
Makes about a quart. We top with basil and serve.
Don't be discouraged if you didn't grow tomatoes and haven't befriended those who did. The Market has plenty of ripe tomatoes in plenty of varieties, but not forever. One good frost and we're all back to greenhouse tomatoes, so the time is now!