It’s that time of year that I never think is going to come: I’m a bit tired of fresh tomatoes. I mean, I still had one with just salt and pepper for lunch today, and it was delicious. But I’m at that point in the season where I’m trying to find new ways to use them up. Here is a listing of our ten go-to ways to use up the tomato harvest:
- Roasted three tomato salsa. This is a new one this year, but it is SO addicting. We can’t stop eating it – on everything!
- Cucumber tomato salad. We have probably eaten this six days of the week for the last two months. I try to change up the vinegar in the dressing to spice things up a bit. My latest obsession is white balsamic vinegar, and it is delicious in this, especially with just a bit of local honey.
- Caprese salad. It doesn’t get much easier – or prettier – than this. I like to add some sweet onion sliced super thinly, and if I don’t have fresh mozzarella on hand, I like to experiment with different cheese. I think this a balsamic asiago, which is my newest guilty pleasure.
- Roasted chili fixins. This is basically like a homemade version of Rotel that I love to have on hand for easy chili or tortilla soup. I use about five pounds of tomatoes + 2-3 jalepeno peppers + one small onion, diced. Throw all of that in a roasting pan in a 450 degree oven for about an hour, or until the tomatoes brown up a bit. At this point, if you don’t want to mess with canning, just stir the mixture and put it in freezer-safe quart or pint jars, and throw in the freezer for later use.
If you would prefer to can them, I like to puree the mixture first to ensure it is mixed thoroughly (and because I like the pureed texture in my chili). Check out this great step-by-step tutorial for water bath canning directions. Add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice to each sterilized glass jar, and then, using a funnel, pour the pureed mixture into your jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles, wipe the rims, apply lids and rims, and process in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes (pints) or 40 minutes (quarts). Remove the canner from the heat, and let the jars cool gradually before removing them from the water. Once the jars have completely cooled, check the lids. If they’re secure, put them in your pantry; if they are not secure, the lids didn’t seal properly, and you’ll want to put them in the fridge and use them within a few days.
- Homemade Bloody Mary mix. I used this recipe, and whoa are these delicious. I had some homemade pickles, dilly beans, and jalapeno-stuffed olives on-hand to make these extra delicious. The only problem is that it took a LOOONG time to cook down and only have a few pints to show for it. I plan to use this recipe at the end of the garden season when I have loads of tomatoes to use up. Homemade Bloody Maries will get me through the dreariness of Indiana Februaries.
- Roasted tomato jam. Grant likes my bourbon or honey tomato jam better, but I love this roasted version and always whip up a few batches for myself. It cooks down a ton, so we usually eat it up quickly enough not to need to can or freeze it.
- Italian style cherry tomatoes. We grow a ton of cherry tomatoes because Jazzy eats them like candy. Even now, I have at least 100 to pick off the plants, even though I just picked at least 100 of them on Monday. I like to grab a handful of basil, thyme, and oregano, a few cloves of garlic, a glug or two of olive oil, and throw that all in a 425 degree oven for about 45 minutes. It cooks down a ton, and then I put it in freezer safe jars. I love this for a super fast marinara or pizza sauce. I just saute some onion in olive oil, maybe add a bit of tomato paste and wine, and then dump in this mixture and cook it all down for about 15 minutes. It makes a delicious red sauce that tastes like Italy in the summer.
- Lazy lady heirloom tomato salad. This is like caprese without the cheese or basil, and it’s so yummy, simple, and pretty. I like to save my family’s favorite tomatoes for this, so the tomatoes can really shine. I drizzle some balsamic vinegar and EVOO on top, and I have a beautiful summer salad in about 30 seconds.
- Mushroom veggie sauce. This is another super easy dinner – throw some mushrooms, tomatoes (you can mix cherry and regular types), sliced onions, some garlic, whatever fresh herbs you have on hand, and a few glugs of olive oil + salt and pepper. Roast it all in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes. It is delicious over pasta or zoodles.
- Easiest fresh tomato sauce. I love having this on hand, and it has tons of uses – over pasta, pizza sauce, and all sorts of soups.
Those are my top ten favorite easy ways to use up the tomato harvest. I love finding ways that show off the tomatoes, but don’t require tons of work on my end. I’m already preserving lots of stuff this time of the year, so I tend to gravitate toward ways that provide the best effort-to-payoff-ratio. What are your favorite ways to use up those tomatoes?