We're in the last third of August. For those of us in Rhode Island and the surrounding area, this means our tomatoes are starting to ripen. Whether you get them from your own backyard, steal some from your mom's garden (I might have done this), or get a weekly CSA share (Greenview Farm in Wakefield, RI, holla!) you may have noticed that you have tomatoes. So many tomatoes. So very many tomatoes.
All those tomatoes can quickly become overwhelming. What to do with all of them? Well, there are lots of options, but here are three of my favorites.
1. Diced Tomatoes
Easiest. Thing. Ever. As a Rhode Island family photographer, I've met lots of moms (and dads!) and a common theme in our conversations is the time crunch parents are under today. There are a TON of quick and easy recipes that use diced tomatoes (and Crockpot recipes, too!). Making your own diced tomatoes means there are no preservatives, no added salt, and nothing leaching into your tomatoes from a can. Simply dice then freeze in your chosen container. When you need diced tomatoes, pull them out of the freezer, defrost, and add to recipe. You can get the equivalent one can's worth of diced tomatoes from a medium-large tomato, but the super big heirlooms will give you two can's worth. See my two piles?
Marinara. Gravy. Spaghetti sauce. The name is up to you. When you REALLY have tons of tomatoes, this is what you make, and it's a fun activity for kids to help with. It's best done with paste-type tomatoes, but you can do it with the more watery heirlooms; the sauce will taste good but will be much thinner. You can can the sauce to keep (thanks to my brother for this jar) or, if you lack canning stuff, I've frozen it for several months in freezer bags and it's been a success. Check out the sauce recipe I use below. Stickers courtesy of my nephew a number of years ago.
3. Caprese salad and its cousins
I'm not sure if I've ever met a combination of stuff more tasty than tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. If you'd like to have a wonderful dining experience in your own backyard, get a yummy, smoky-flavored heirloom tomato; some fresh basil; and some mozzarella or burratta cheese (used here). Slice the tomato, add the cheese and basil, and drizzle on a little olive oil and balsamic. Take a glass of wine and your laptop out back, make sure everyone knows to leave you in peace for a half hour or so, and enjoy. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
What's your favorite way to use tomatoes? Let me know in the comments!