Tomatoes are abundant in late summer and are something I look forward to all year.
The difference in flavor between a tomato straight from the garden and one bought at the grocery store during the winter months is remarkable, so when it’s tomato season here in New Hampshire, I take full advantage.
I grew tomatoes several years ago, but the yard at my new house doesn’t get great light so I can’t grow my own.
My older son decided to give it a try this year and thought a good way to get around the sunlight issue would be to set his tomato plants outside his second-floor window on the roof.
As predicted, one of his prized tomato plants that was delicately perched on the sloped roof blew over and the plant, complete with a green tomato, went crashing to the ground. The plant couldn’t be recovered and the experiment was a failure.
Luckily we have a neighborhood store that sells local produce so we can easily stock up on fresh tomatoes. I love to roast them in the oven along with a bulb of garlic, then scatter them on a puff pastry tart with bacon, feta and pesto. It’s easy to throw together and bakes up quickly.
Another simple way to use tomatoes is to add them to a flatbread along with fresh mozzarella. I usually have store-bought pizza dough on hand for those times when everyone is hungry and I need something simple to put together.
I use an electric grill like a George Foreman grill to make the flatbread, then I add the tomatoes and cheese and stick it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
If you have a bunch of fresh tomatoes hanging around that you don’t know what to do with, you can whip up a tomato sauce for pasta.
I blanched the tomatoes and removed the seeds. Then I chopped them up and sautéed them with butter, diced onion and celery.
When everything was cooked down, I added brown sugar, lemon, sea salt, fresh herbs and olive oil. The result was a hearty, restaurant-worthy sauce done in less than a half-hour.
Rustic Roasted Tomato Pastry
13 ounce package of puff pastry
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons pesto
2 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup cooked bacon, crumbled
2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, for garnish, if desired
Add one tablespoon of the olive oil to a roasting pan and spread around to coat the bottom.
Add tomatoes and onion to a bowl and drizzle with half a tablespoon of the olive oil and toss to coat.
Transfer the tomatoes to the roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Set in an oven heated to 425 degrees and roast for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the tomatoes over with a spatula, then return to oven. Roast for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to char slightly and have softened. Remove from oven and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the pastry dough on top.
Unroll the pastry sheet and spread with pesto, leaving about an inch at the edges.
Fold the edges over about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. Spread the roasted tomatoes and onions onto the pastry, then add bacon and feta.
Brush the folded edges with the beaten egg, then set in an oven preheated to 425 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is light golden brown and puffy. Remove from oven and garnish with basil before serving, if desired.
Tomato, Ground Beef & Mozzarella Flatbread
1 package store-bought pizza dough
1 bulb garlic
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
1 cup cooked ground beef, crumbled
3 ounce package mini-mozzarella balls
2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning
Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and set in an oven preheated to 425 degrees.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the garlic has softened. Remove from oven, remove foil and allow to cool.
Divide the dough into four pieces. Stretch each piece into an oblong shape approximately 1/2-inch thick. Brush each side lightly with olive or avocado oil and set each piece in an electric grill for about 5 minutes or until the dough begins to brown. Remove from grill and set aside.
Squeeze the roasted garlic from the bulb and spread some on each flatbread, then set the flatbread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Divide the ground beef into four servings and sprinkle on each flatbread; repeat with tomatoes. Add mozzarella balls to each piece, then season with salt and pepper. Set under a broiler for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh parsley and additional chopped tomatoes, if desired.
Fresh Tangy Tomato Sauce
5 ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Set a pot of water large enough to hold the tomatoes on the stove to boil.
Cut an “X” on the bottom of each tomato. When the water comes to a boil, add tomatoes.
Remove the tomatoes when the skin starts to pull away, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove tomatoes and immediately plunge them in ice cold water to cool. Remove and discard the skins.
Slice tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and stem and discard. Chop the remaining tomato.
Add butter to a sauté pan and set over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add garlic, onion and celery. Cook until the vegetables are softened and begin to brown.
Add olive oil, chopped tomatoes, lemon, brown sugar, salt, pepper, oregano and basil and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
Once tomatoes begin to cook down, lower the heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from heat and serve over pasta.