The tomato harvest has begun!! Be still my heart.
We are entering the days when I make dinner plans based on what looks ready to pick. Granted, that means we will mainly be eating lots of tomato/basil inspired dishes, a variety of squashes, and the last of the cabbages, but this is not exactly a hardship around here. 😉
I’ve had several people ask me why I chose to plant so many cherry and pear tomatoes when large tomatoes are easier to preserve in sauces and salsas. Aside from their candy-like deliciousness when eaten out of hand, here is the short answer:
Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.
Oh. My. Goodness.
The instructions couldn’t be simpler: Slice them in half, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic cloves, and fresh herbs (if you like) and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up, in a 200 degree oven for 3 hours until the are shriveled but the centers are still soft.
At this point, I either deposit the whole batch in a freezer bag, scraping in all the olive oil and garlic along with the tomatoes, and freeze them, or I put them in a jar with a little extra olive oil for refrigerator storage.
Or I eat them off the pan. Sometimes that happens.
Future uses are endless: Toss them in salads, pastas, pizzas. Their flavor is intensely concentrated and tomato-sweet. I’ve even blended them into a last minute salsa before.
For your future tiny tomato growing needs, my two favorite varieties are:
-Super Sweet 100- (I picked up mine at Antioch Urban). The yield on these is massive and daily. And they taste exactly like a cherry tomato should!
-Juliet- This is an heirloom variety with an oblong shape, like a mini Roma. They are almost too big for a single bite, but absolutely perfect when roasted. Maybe even more so than the cherry tomato size. And of course, they have fantastic flavor.
Another star of this year’s garden are the Japanese Black Truffle variety of regular-sized heirloom tomatoes I picked up at Antioch Urban. They are heavy in your hand, even with their modest size, promising (and delivering) thick, earthy-sweet tomato slices that need no adornment to steal the show. I will absolutely be growing these next year, probably every year! I don’t see how I could beat this flavor profile.
Another thing I’ve learned here at the beginning of summer harvest is just exactly why people use precious garden space to grow potatoes. It always seemed strange to me in the past. After all, potatoes are 50 cents a pound at the store, and a potato is a potato, right?
I dug up a handful of red potatoes to see what all the fuss was about. And this is what the fuss is about: These potatoes taste like something. There is a depth of flavor here I was absolutely not expecting. And after roasting, the inside of each piece was so incredibly creamy, as if I had worked some sort of magic spell on them instead of just tossing them in an oven for 25 minutes.
Although the kids and I were tempted to demolish the whole pan right then, we resisted, and I tossed the precious potatolings into a quick salad with other garden goodness. This salad has always been a favorite for us, but I have to say this incarnation with these potatoes and tomatoes was the best yet. I’d make it every day if I had enough potatoes! I may be haunting a farmer’s market near you in search of more! (You know, I think there’s still time for a fall potato crop if you act fast…)
Here’s the a loose recipe:
Dice the potatoes into uniform bite-sized pieces (1/2 in or less speeds the roasting process), drizzle with olive oil; toss with 2 T. small-diced onions, two cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 25- 30 min, or until insides are creamy. 😉
While the potatoes are roasting, toss the following in a bowl:
Fresh herbs, chopped, to taste (I used lemon basil, parsley, chives and thyme)
Sliced green olives (about 1/3-1/2 c.)
Cherry and/or pear tomatoes, cut in half (about 3/4- 1 c.)
1 can of white albacore tuna in water, drained and flaked
Drizzle in a little olive oil (1 Tbsp) and several splashes of balsamic vinegar. My best guess is I used about 1 1/2 tsp. Add salt and pepper to taste, but remember the potatoes have already been salted, so it’s okay to go easy.
Toss with the potatoes when they’re out of the oven and have cooled slightly. I prefer to eat this salad when the potatoes are still warm, but you can also serve it at room temperature or cold!
What are your favorite summer harvest recipes?