Year of the Tomato – Best Recipes To Use Your Tomato Bounty

I declare this 2020, The Year of the Tomato! Forget COVID, frosts, and marauding ground hogs, I have harvested the most tomatoes that I can remember in my many years of gardening.

I grew all kinds of tomatoes this year
This is what my kitchen counters looked liked for weeks

Bad Start to a Tomato Year

With an inauspicious start – an unusually late killing frost around Mother’s day – I was left with only half of my carefully nurtured transplants started in February alive. The other half were barely alive and were withered blackened stumps poking above the soil.

In mid-May, I tried to protect my tomato plants from frost
Some of my transplants were over a foot high, started in my greenhouse

After panic shopping for some replacement tomatoes, the withered stumps of my transplants started to sprout leaves and grow, so I ended up with about 25-30 tomato plants, about 10 more than I normally grow.

This was my top tomato producer- ‘Cream of the Crop’ Bronze Torch F 1- a delicious striped grape tomato that kept on giving all season long

What to Do With all Those Tomatoes?

Yes, I had to do something with them or they rot in a few days after picking. Now, I am dealing with the consequences. As fast as I can give them away, a new crop comes in from the garden. We eat them garnishing omelettes for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch,  and fried, au gratined, sauced, or even baked in bread for dinner.

Frying tomatoes in butter breaded with a mixture of cornmeal and flour is my favorite way to fix tomatoes

Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart is easy to make with puff pastry, cheese, and carmelized onions

Upside-Down Heirloom Tomato Cornbread

Upside down cornbread

Upside Down Heirloom Cornbread was a crowd pleaser and delicious too! It lasted for several meals and was even better heated up the second day.

Upside-Down Heirloom Tomato Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Heirloom Tomatoes Sliced into 1/2 inch rounds; I added some smaller ones
  • 2 C Yellow Cornmeal Fine or Coarse
  • 1 C All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/4 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided Smoked or plain
  • 1 C Fresh Corn Kernels About 2 Ears
  • 1-2 Jalapeno chopped & seeded
  • 1 3/4 C Buttermilk
  • 6 T Butter Melted
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 T Sugar
  • Garnish with additional Basil Leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees and line bottom of cast iron skillet with a round of parchment paper. Spray parchment paper and sides of skillet with cooking spray.

  2. Cut the tomatoes into slices and lay on paper towels to drain while you mix the batter.

  3. In large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in 1 1/2 C cheese, corn, basil, and jalapeno. Make a well in the center.

  4. In another bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.

  5. Place tomato slices in bottom of prepared skillet, overlapping if needed. Sprinkle with sugar and top with 1/2 C of shredded cheese. Spoon batter onto tomatoes, smoothing.

  6. Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes clean - 30-35 minutes.

  7. Let cool in skillet for 10 minutes and then invert bread onto serving platter. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Garnish with basil.

I dried lots of tomatoes and store them in containers and freeze for using later on pizzas, breads, and other dishes

Drying, canning, saucing, jamming, and preserving tomatoes has consumed my days. And I have sauce down to an art! It uses the most tomatoes in the quickest amount of time and I have cut corners to make it with minimal effort.

I even made a golden tomato sauce with yellow tomatoes
Throwing in lots of tomatoes, all colors, makes for a flavorful sauce
After the tomatoes cook down a bit, throw in peppers and onions to cook with the tomatoes
I throw in entire chunks of thyme to cook down and all the leaves fall off; remove the stems before blending

Tomato Sauce

Everything I need to make sauce

No peeling and seeding for me! I wash and core them and plop them into a dutch oven on the stove top and let them simmer until they become sauce. Here is the basic recipe, but you notice I don’t have quantities for much of anything. Play it all by ear. Just throw in what you have on your kitchen counter, and I can assure you, you will be successful.

Easy Method Tomato Sauce

An easy to prepare tomato sauce that you can throw anything else in that you have in the garden

Ingredients

  • Fresh ripe tomatoes, any kind Core, and cut in half
  • 1-5 Fresh Peppers, any kind Core, and chop into large pieces
  • Bunch Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Dollop Honey
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Oregano, dried or fresh
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Chopped Onion
  • Chopped Fresh Basil

Instructions

  1. Core and cut in half your tomatoes and place in dutch oven on medium high heat. An alternative is to place cut up tomatoes in a large roasting pan and roast at 400 degrees for an hour and then dump them into your dutch oven to cook further

  2. When the mixture is bubbling away, throw in whole thyme sprigs, the bay leaf, honey, salt and pepper, fresh peppers, and onion

  3. Cook for at least an hour or two and remove the thyme sprigs. By this time, all the leaves will disappear and the stems will be left

  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth

  5. Continue cooking for an hour or so until the sauce thickens to your liking. You could even add a small can of tomato paste to make it nice and thick

  6. Take it off the stove top and add chopped up basil and stir it in

  7. Once the mixture completely cools, put into containers and refrigerate or freeze

I use my most useful kitchen appliance in my kitchen to blend everything together into a sauce – an immersion blender.

Delicious ‘Mushroom’ Tomatoes
‘Solar Flare’ got my vote for most beautiful and delicious
‘Berkeley’ was not prolific, but delicious

6 Replies to “Year of the Tomato – Best Recipes To Use Your Tomato Bounty”

  1. Now, that’s a lot of tomatoes, but you probably made friends and neighbors happy with your gifts and your family must have enjoyed your cooking efforts. Everything looks delicious. My full sized tomatoes didn’t produce any extra, but my cherries have been unbelievable. I made a big pot of chili this week with a colander full of them, but the windowsill is full again. 🙂

  2. We got 1-2 decent sized tomatoes a week from 2 heirloom Purple Cherokee plants, and a hornworm (detected) or slugs or stinkbugs (or all of the above) damaged most of them– although we ate them anyway. Not much output. We had just about given up on tomatoes here but I insisted on a couple plants, at least. I envy your harvest. Had a year like that once with bushels and bushels and bushels from 12 plants– all we and the neighbors could eat and made many gallons of scrumptious peasant tomato sauce.

    I miss good tomatoes so much–even the farm stands don’t seem to be selling “real” ones.

    Thanks for a great post–
    Claudia Brookes

    1. Claudia, Cherokee purple is notoriously fickle in producing as are some other heirlooms. Berkeley tie dye is one of my favorites for taste and beauty and I celebrate when I pick an unblemished one! Try growing pineapple, box car willie and mortgage lifter supplemented with some hybrids like whopper and I can guarantee that you will be rolling in them.

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