It’s tomato season! It’s tomato season! IT’S TOMATO SEASON!!!! I’m celebrating with a roundup of my favorite recipes for eating them fresh and preserving them for later.
As a child and through my early twenties, I firmly believed that I did NOT like tomatoes. Now that I’m a little older, I’ve come to understand that the tomatoes you can buy in the grocery store in February are a pathetic shell of the locally grown (in my garden or by a local farmer) summer tomato.
These days, I avoid fresh tomatoes like the plague for 10 months of the year until the magical tomato season arrives, right on schedule at the beginning of every August (here in Michigan). In this moment (yes, right now!), I eat ALL THE TOMATOES!
My favorite recipes for fresh tomatoes
This means the Augustine house is eating fresh tomatoes for nearly every meal. Some of my favorite “recipes” aren’t really even recipes at all, but rather a collection of delicious ingredients set near each other on a plate. The key to each of these is REALLY GOOD ingredients. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to seek out the best olive oil and balsamic vinegar you can find. My local favorite is a Spanish olive oil, called Arbiquina, that I can buy in bulk from a local shop called Old World Olive Company (Michigan friends, they have several locations around the state). My absolute favorite balsamic is from a farm in Texas, but we haven’t been able to get it in recent years, so I’m currently using an 18-year traditional balsamic, also from Old World Olive Company. I buy my burrata and fresh mozzarella (and pretty much every other cheese I eat) from my local cheese shop, the Rockford Cheese Shop.
My favorite “new” recipe is this gorgeous five ingredient tomato and burrata salad from Barefoot Contessa. After eating this salad almost every day in the past week (psst… it’s really delicious for breakfast!), my favorite combination is: tomatoes, burrata, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add basil (like in the photo below of the first time I made this yumminess, last weekend) or balsamic (like in the recipe linked above) if you feel like it. Or not. It’s completely up to you!
And the gateway Caprese salad (for many of us, including me, this is the first way people begin their love affair with tomatoes). Again, this “recipe” includes just a few fresh and simple ingredients… tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil stacked in beautiful little piles, topped with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
My favorite recipes to preserve tomatoes
I don’t know about you, but I can only eat so many tomatoes (just me? hmmm. Must be the 26 tomato plants we planted this year in our backyard veggie garden, but we can’t keep up!). Each year, in August and September, we spend countless hours in the kitchen preserving tomatoes so we can eat this delicious local food all year long.
Last year, I created a series of blogs focused on preserving food and collected them all into this free course. The course includes individual lessons that explain the basic preservation methods of canning, freezing, and dehydrating, and specific examples of how I use these preserving methods in combination to preserve tomatoes, corn and all my favorite foods so I can eat them all year long.
Whenever you’re ready, these recipes are here waiting for you. My favorite ways to preserve tomatoes include (follow the links below for more information and recipes):
- Freeze them whole (it’s just as simple as it sounds… I put whole tomatoes (no processing) into a ziploc bag and throw them straight into the freezer. These are good for soups and sauces throughout the year, but not slicing because the freezing breaks down the cellular structure, which is a fancy way of saying they’ll be mushy when you defrost them)
- Can them as diced, quartered, halved or whole
- Grandma’s tomato sauce (I can it, but you could just as easily freeze it)
- Sun dried tomatoes (perfect for freezing)
- Tomato paste (perfect for freezing)
All of these recipes are delicious, but I have to tell you that homemade tomato paste changed my life! If you’ve never made your own I have to insist that you put it on your weekend “to do” list right now. This year. Before buying another single can of tomato paste. It’s truly that good. I can honestly say that I hope I never have to use the commercially made paste again.
Please share your thoughts, questions, and favorite recipes in the comments! How do you like to eat fresh tomatoes? How do you preserve them for later?