Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tomato Feast!

I believe it was less than a month ago when I predicted that all the tomatoes would probably ripen at once.  Well, I am pleased to report that I was correct.  The tomatoes are coming in by the basketful now and earlier this week I went out and harvested... 19 pounds of tomatoes!  What?!?!?  And I was only picking the super-ripe ones.  I am sure I could have bumped that up to 25 lbs if I wanted to harvest purely for numbers.  That's just how the garden is- when it rains, it pours.  Not a bad showing for a Tuesday morning.

This harvest was so large that, for the first time, I learned the limit of my little digital scale- 9 pounds.  I had to remove one of the Carbon tomatoes in the photo above and measure it individually to get the total poundage of that variety.  If you look closely, you can see that the scale is reading "EEEE"... not terribly helpful in the quantification department.

The above photo shows the tomatoes separated into individual varieties.  They are (clockwise from top left): Mortgage Lifter, Carbon, 1 purpley-green unripe Carbon that had fallen off the plant, 1 Pineapple, 2 Black Krim, and a bowl of Sungolds.  Holy cow! 

So what to do with all these tomatoes?  There was Sungold Caprese Salad, a tomato-for-jam swap, and gazpacho!  It is unbelievable to me that I made it all the way to September before making gazpacho.  It is one of my favorite summer meals and an excellent use for fresh, homegrown tomatoes.  I've used a variety of different recipes over the years, but for this batch I just modified the good ole Joy of Cooking.  I am pleased with the results and it was such a hit the other night that I got a recipe request for it!  So here it is, a simple and delicious use for those late-season tomatoes.

Serves 8-10
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

bell peppers (I used orange and yellow for a sweeter flavor), seeds and ribs removed
1 English cucumber, peeled
~4-5 lbs tomatoes (I used 2 Mortgage Lifter, 2 Black Krim, and 3 or 4 Carbon)
4 cloves garlic
~1/4-1/2 cup red wine vinegar
~3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
~2 heaping teaspoons Kosher salt
1. Roughly chop peppers, cucumber and tomatoes.  Reserve juices from tomatoes as you are cutting.  In batches, (unless your blender is humongous) "chop" vegetables together in a blender; use tomato juices for liquid to enable blending (or use a little water if more liquid is needed).  Remove each batch to a large bowl as it is finished.

2. On last round of blending, add minced garlic cloves, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt.  Add to large bowl and stir to combine.

3. Let gazpacho sit, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  The longer it sits, the more developed the flavor becomes (though after a few days the garlic may be too strong).

4. Taste for seasoning- it may need more salt, some pepper (crushed red pepper flakes? paprika?), or a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve cold or room temperature.


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