It’s that time of year when tomatoes get a little, well, tired. The plants are ravaged, the lower leaves yellowed or shriveled, the vines tangled around their cages.
But still, those feisty Sun Golds and Better Boys keep pumping out fruit, and so you leave the plants in the garden. And as for those still-green heirlooms, struggling to ripen — you find a way to coax a little more flavor out of them. Roasting, frying, preserving.
Assuming you’ve had your fill of caprese salad and margarita pizza, here are a few ideas for using your late-season tomatoes. And if your plants already are history, check the farmers markets — there should be plenty of good fresh tomatoes out there still. Enjoy the season as long as it lasts.
And start dreaming about what you’ll plant next year.
Kathy Morrison of MCT contributed.
Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 20 minutes; Makes 3 pints. Adapted from Leda Meredith’s “Preserving Everything” (Countryman Press, $19.95). She suggests using this as a master recipe, “swapping pears or peaches for the green tomatoes” if you wish.
Per tablespoon: 30 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 15 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
- 6 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
- 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 12 cups raisins, chopped
- 1 organic lemon, sliced into thin slivers (include peels, discard seeds)
- 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, peeled, minced
- 1 to 2 chili peppers, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon each: ground allspice, ground coriander
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Place all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, until green tomatoes and apple are very soft. The chutney is thick enough when a wooden spoon dragged across bottom leaves a trail that doesn’t fill in with chutney until a couple of seconds have passed. Keeps in refrigerator up to 1 month.
This recipe is from Jeffrey Bloomer of Slate, who writes: “Tomatoes should be the star ingredient, and practically the only ingredient. Since I have no passed-down family recipe, the only kind that seems to exist for tomato soup, I finally adapted one from someone else’s grandmother. This recipe gets two things unforgettably correct: The perfect tomato soup fully embraces its central ingredient, and, crucially, it should only be made when the absolute best tomatoes are available — like right now.
I will stick to calling this a tomato soup, but the correct course is to include some cream. Its richness wonderfully balances the tomatoes’ lingering acidity. The key is to take a light hand. And through many attempts of roasting, stewing and otherwise pulverizing tomatoes, I’ve come to appreciate my Internet-adopted grandmother’s method of slowly cooking them in a couple pats of butter (not olive oil), letting the pulp break down and the juices flow.
Finally, you must resist the urges of your childhood and leave the soup thick and chunky. You want the last bits of tomato to melt in your mouth, not in the pan.”
Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 22 minutes; Serves 3.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 to 5 medium ripe tomatoes, halved
- Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1 large sprig of rosemary or thyme, optional
- Put the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When it melts, add the tomatoes, cut side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have released most their juices (but aren’t charred), 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the tomatoes over and cook until they begin to break down, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. After 30 seconds, add the cream and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot as you go. Use the spoon to break down the tomatoes to a chunky but spoonable consistency. Add the thyme or rosemary sprig, if desired. Taste and adjust the seasoning; serve warm.
- (Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days.)
Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 4 minutes; Serves 2.
Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are a treasure. After you’ve had your fill eating them out of hand, consider cooking with them. They are best when subjected just briefly to heat so that the sweetness is intensified but the freshness remains.
You can substitute two fresh Italian sausages for the precooked, cooking them before slicing into 1/2-inch coins. Precooked brown rice can be found at some grocery stores, often in the frozen aisle.
Per serving: 707 calories, 44 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 72 mg cholesterol, 58 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 1,468 mg sodium, 7 g fiber
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pint Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, about
- 4 precooked Italian sausages, about 9 ounces total, sliced in about 1/2-inch pieces, crosswise
- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted, cut in quarters lengthwise
- 2 cups precooked brown rice, heated
- 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese or blue cheese crumbles
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes; season with a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until tomatoes begin to soften, about 2 minutes. (Tomatoes will continue to cook with the other ingredients, so they should not cook too much at this stage.)
- Stir in the sausage. Turn the heat to medium. Cook until just heated through. Off the heat, stir in the olives. Serve in big bowls over the rice, topped with the crumbled cheese.
Makes 4 cups This bright-tasting refrigerator jam is good on muffins, pancakes and French toast. The recipe, via The Washington Post, is from Wheaton, Maryland, resident Dennis Broud, who offers this tip: Freeze the ginger until quite cold before you grate it, to make the job easier. The jam can be refrigerated for 7 to 10 days, or frozen for longer storage.
- About 10 Roma tomatoes, diced (4 cups)
- Flesh from 2 large mangoes, diced (2 1 / 2cups)
- 2 limes
- 1 1 /2 tablespoons peeled, grated ginger root
- Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 cup sugar substitute, such as Truvia
- 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (may substitute cornstarch blended into 2 tablespoons water)
- Combine the tomatoes and mangoes in a large, wide pot. Finely grate the zest of the limes into the mixture, then squeeze in the juice. Cut out the pulp and add that as well, along with the ginger and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a low boil over medium heat; stir in the sugar substitute, brown sugar and molasses, until the sugar substitute has dissolved. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low; cook for 45 to 55 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced by at least one-third.
- Stir in the arrowroot; cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens into a jam. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Transfer to one or more airtight containers; cool before serving, or cool completely then refrigerate for 7 to 10 days.
- Per 2-tablespoon serving: 30 calories, 0 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar
- 10-12 tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
- Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 300. Spread a thin layer of olive oil on a baking sheet, place tomatoes in a single layer on top and sprinkle them with chopped thyme and salt. Drizze more olive oil over top. Roast for 2 hours.
- Serve over pasta, on toast, or spoon over meat or fish.
Named for food editor Liz Johnson’s friend Peggy, who served this as an hors d’oeuvre at a late-summer dinner party, roasting coaxes the flavor out of not-quite-ripe tomatoes. It’s lovely with goat cheese and baguette slices. Olives are nice, too. Fold the leftovers into scrambled eggs for breakfast.
- 6-7 tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons Pecorino
- 5-6 sprigs thyme
- 1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place the cored and chopped tomatoes in a glass or ceramic baking dish and sprinkle Pecorino and thyme over them. Toss gently with a spoon.
- Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the tomatoes are very soft but still slightly chunky, not quite the consistency of applesauce. Add basil and check to see if it needs salt (it may not).