This time of year when gardens are finishing up their Summer run, many of us find ourselves overwhelmed with tomatoes. This is especially true if you’ve planted any of the cherry varieties which are so prolific and ever producing until they ultimately get struck with that killing frost. UGH! Let’s hope that doesn’t come any time soon. We will shove that right out of our minds for now and concentrate on what to do with today’s harvest. Yes, the cherry tomato. I planted one plant of the sun-gold and wow what a yield. What to do? These little beauties are like garden candy. They are wonderful as a salad dressed for dinner in a light vinaigrette with just a little minced shallot and some fresh herb like basil, chives, tarragon or parsley. It makes a lovely compliment to almost anything you may be serving. Another way we like to eat them is either sautéed or roasted, just long enough for them to soften a bit, with some garlic and onion in olive oil and then tossed with spaghetti and again fresh herbs. It is such a satisfying meal. Don’t forget the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated or shaved on top for garnish and a flavor boost to achieve that umami (the heightening of a dish by adding an ingredient that brings in the fifth element of taste beyond sweet, salty, sour, bitter or hot). As mentioned, I have the sun-gold in my garden but any variety of cherry tomato would do. Don’t have a garden? Your local farmer’s markets are loaded with them now and selling at low-end of season prices. All tomatoes regardless of type are at their peak of flavor and sweetness as we speak.
Another idea for using these juicy bites is Cherry Tomato Jam. You can make a big batch and either can it or freeze it for later when the tomatoes are all mealy and pale. You could also gobble it all up right away. You may not be able to resist that.
Here’ the deal. Really easy and packs a real flavor punch .
CHERRY TOMATO JAM Makes about a cup
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
2t extra virgin olive oil
3 small shallots, finely diced
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
¼ t ground cardamom
¼ t ground turmeric
2c cherry tomatoes, cut in half (I used sweet sun-gold but any variety would do. If not sweet, add a bit of sugar or honey)
2t fresh lime juice, divided
½ t lime zest
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1T fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften.
- Add the crushed red pepper flakes, cardamom and turmeric and continue to stir for another minute or so.
- Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook until tomatoes are quite soft but still somewhat intact.
- Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until mixture is slightly chunky.
- Put mixture back into the pan, add 1T of the lime juice and the ½ t of lime zest. Simmer until mixture thickens a bit. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Allow to cool, taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Add remaining lime juice if you feel it needs more acidity.
- Stir in the cilantro and chill.
Allow to come to room temp before using for maximum flavor. Can be used as a condiment for sandwiches (turkey, chicken, burgers, grilled cheese or any other ingredient you might pair with tomato) or as a relish for shrimp, fish, fowl or however you are led by your imagination. I urge you to go wild!
After making this yesterday and thinking I hadn’t had my annual BLT, a must have for me when the garden tomatoes are so good, I decided to make one substituting the jam for the usual slice. My, my, my, what can I say, it was spectacular! Even my husband who is not a big fan of tomato on a sandwich sang its praises and came back for more today. No joke it is a winner.
Before I say goodbye, I want to quickly address the cilantro. For some reason unknown to me, this herb evokes really strong opinions. People either love it or hate it. I love the clean citrus flavor it adds but if you are one in the opposing camp, leave it out and add another herb of choice like parsley. Recipes are a guideline. It is always best to tailor them to your palate for maximum satisfaction.
Keep in mind, not only are tomatoes healthy, some have claimed they have aphrodisiac powers. Early on, the French even called them, pommes d’amour, love apples. Until next time, keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Sending love to all who have helped me meet my goal of 200 subscribers. Keep up the good work. Let’s try for 300! Love you all.