Tomato season started a little late in New England this year, leaving tomato fans rejoicing over the prospect of plucking fresh ripe tomatoes from their gardens way into October. With a delightful abundance of tomatoes on hand for fall, here are a few tips to help you look beyond caprese salad, tomato’s summer staple, and think about other ways to enjoy tomatoes during the crisper months. From Roma, to cherry, to beefsteak varieties, there are plenty of ways to use up those juicy delicious tomatoes:
1) Roast or dehydrate them and place in sterilized jars; cover with extra virgin olive oil and process in a water bath. Use for sauce, as topping for bruschetta or in casseroles.
2) Make a delicious tomato salsa. Nothing is better than a homemade salsa for a cozy taco night!
3) Make gazpacho – add some jalapeño to spice it up for fall.
4) Blanch, peel and freeze whole for making winter sauces.
5) Chop and use in soups – perfect for a delicious minestrone or chickpea and pasta soup.
1) Top your favorite pizza to add extra color and flavor to every bite.
2) Make a tomato and corn cobbler – a savory version of the desert classic.
3) Sauté whole with some oregano to make the perfect simple side for a delicious roast chicken breast.
4) Make a crudo (raw) tomato sauce for pasta by combining cut cherry tomatoes with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Let marinate. Add cooked, hot pasta to tomatoes and mix well.
5) Freeze whole in plastic bags for making creamy tomato soup to warm up the winter nights. Add a grilled cheese for the perfect combo.
1) Make a tomato cheese open tart using prepared puff pastry, which does the trick every time!
2) Make crunchy cornmeal fried tomatoes – no one will expect it but everyone will love it!
3) Make a tomato relish – the perfect lamb accompaniment!
4) Stuff hollowed out tomatoes with chicken salad, rice salad, or macaroni salad.
Tomato and Swiss chard pie
Created by Mary Ann Esposito for Backyard Farms
For the filling:
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stemmed, with leaves torn into pieces
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 pound chunk pancetta, diced
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup tarragon, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Swiss, mozzarella or Fontina cheese, diced
2 beefsteak tomatoes thinly sliced
1. Fill a large pot with boiling water. Salt it, add the Swiss chard leaves and boil for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and squeeze as much water as possible from the leaves. You should have about 1-1/2 cups. On a cutting board, coarsely chop the leaves and set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and all the butter. Stir in the onions and cook them slowly over low heat until they soften and begin to caramelize. Stir in the brown sugar and the vinegar and cook until the onions are glazed-looking. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. In the same pan, heat the remaining olive oil and add the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta begins to give off its fat and begins to brown. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the Swiss chard and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the tarragon, salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the bowl with the onions. Cool to room temperature. Add the cheese and mix in. Filling can be made two days ahead and refrigerated.
For the tart dough (prepared puff pastry works as well):
1-3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
3/4 cup buttermilk
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt and blend with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles oatmeal flakes. Stir in the buttermilk and combine with a spoon or your hands until a rough ball of dough is formed. Do not over work the dough; it will be soft and sticky.
2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or make the dough the day before.
To make the pie:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Roll the dough into a 14-inch diameter on a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Place the dough on the parchment paper on a baking sheet.
3. Spread the filling evenly over the dough to within 1-/12-inches of the edge. Overlap the tomato slices in a circular fashion over the top of the filling. Bring the edges of the dough up around the filling to form a rustic open face pie.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.
5. Serve hot or warm and cut into wedges.
Mary Ann Esposito is the creator and host of the nationally televised PBS series, "Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito." She is also the head chef for Backyard Farms, the largest greenhouse in the Northeast that employs a sustainable, hydroponic growing method to grow fresh tomatoes year round.