Friday, September 23, 2011

What to Do With All Those Tomatoes

It's been an odd year for my garden.  A cool, wet spring met a cool, cloudy summer here in Portland.  It never even got over 100 degrees!  We finally had a couple of weeks of hot weather, during which my tomatoes really ripened by the dozen.  I'm not sure how much longer this will last with my tomato plants perishing and the weather cooling off again.  Every year it happens: I get tons of tomatoes at once, then I go the rest of the year yearning for them.  Here are some things that I do to prolong my tomato window.

Pick them green

If it's getting to be too late in the season, the vines are starting to rot and a frost is near, just pick them and bring them inside.  The green ones will ripen eventually.  One year I had tomatoes ripening in my kitchen until December.

Dry them

Linda of The Gluten-Free Homemaker has a great post on how to "sun dry" your tomatoes in the oven.  I did that last year with some tomatoes using her recipe.

Freeze them

I've heard that the simplest way to preserve tomatoes is to freeze tomatoes that you've de-stemmed and quartered.  Sometimes I'm too lazy even for that.  I just chuck them in a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer.  When I thaw them out, I dip them in a bowl of warm water for a moment and the skin peels right off.  Voila!

Make tomato sauce

It will take several hours, but making a tomato sauce is a simple way to use several pounds of tomatoes at once. 

Use Them Fresh

Basically, just use them in everything.  If you don't have quite enough for a tomato sauce, try one of these other recipes:

Beer-Braised Chicken in Orange Tomato Sauce
Sungold Tomato Salad

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beer-Braised Chicken with Orange Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe inspired by my garden.  In the late summer, I often have an excess of tomatoes.  I created this recipe to make use of them, and it turned out better than I imagined.  All the flavors compete with each other to make a beautiful late summer meal with a Spanish influence.

Olive oil
1 whole chicken, cut in 8 pieces
1/2 onion
10 oz. GF beer
1-2 lbs tomatoes
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
salt to taste
1/2 Valencia orange, cut in wedges
fresh basil to taste
pitted black olives and juice


In a dutch oven or large non-aluminum pot, brown the chicken pieces on each side in olive oil.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Brown the onions and remove them.  Add the beer to the pot and scrape up the brownings with a wooden spoon.  Reduce the beer to the desired thickness for the sauce.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Add the tomatoes, orange, salt, pepper, basil, olives with juice and cumin to the beer sauce.  Stir until everything is warm and well combined.

Add the chicken back to the pot and spoon the sauce over.  Bake for 35 minutes or until done.  Serve with rice or other side.  Garnish with a basil sprig and enjoy!