Tons Of Tomatoes? Try This.

IMG_1962Summer days are waning (sniff sniff). One of the wonderful things about the end of summer is our daily trip to the tomato plants. How big of a bowl do I need today, I wonder each time? Two days ago I bypassed a bowl altogether and just gathered the bounty by holding up the bottom of my long t-shirt, akin to a farmer’s wife using the bottom of her apron.

While I love picking each shiny red globe, I’m actually not a fan of raw tomatoes. Something about that mushy texture just gets me every time. So when tomatoes are entering my house by the dozen each and every day, I have to come up with creative ways to use them up so I can enjoy them just as much as my husband (lover of raw tomatoes) and daughter (follows in her mama’s footsteps when it comes to tomatoes).

I have three favorite preparations this summer I’ll share here, two today and the third (roasted salsa) in a few days.

#1 – Easy Tomato Sauce
You can make this recipe with any ratio of ingredients you like or have on hand. Everything here is approximate. You really can’t mess this up, unless you leave the tomatoes out all together. We have all these ingredients in our garden this year so it’s especially fun to make knowing we did it all ourselves!

2 pounds fresh roma or other tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I don’t bother deseeding or skinning)
4-6 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced or crushed
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
Big handful fresh basil, 12-16 large leaves, coarsely chopped
Small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (deseeded unless you like a lot of spice)
1-2 tsp. sugar
dash salt
olive oil

Saute the garlic and onion until soft in the olive oil. Add in the jalapeno (optional – leave it out if you don’t like spicy food). Add tomato chunks and let simmer on low for 15-30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes have melted into each other. Throw in the basil, sugar and salt. Serve over noodles, chicken, steak or as a delicious side dish. It’s thick, rich and delicious. I keep thinking I’ll make extra and freeze it but so far we just keep eating it all!

#2 Sauteed tomatoes and green beans
I make this when I can get a big enough handful of green beans from our two piddly bush bean plants.

Fresh green beans (1-2 dozen, or more if you have them)
2-4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/4-1/2 pound cherry tomatoes or other fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Fresh herbs from your garden (I usually go for the tarragon)
Olive oil
Salt

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for about 4 minutes, until bright green and slightly tender. In the meantime heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the garlic and onion until soft. Add in the tomatoes and, like the sauce recipe above, let simmer until thickened and melty, about 15 minutes. Add the green beans for another 2-3 minutes of cooking time in the sauce, then stir in the herbs and salt at the very end. This makes a lovely side dish to grilled meat on a warm end-of-summer evening.

Enjoy, and please do share your ideas for cooking up all these beautiful tomatoes!

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