Written By: Chef Peggy Aoki
When the heat of summer really comes on, so do the tomatoes. Locally grown tomatoes that have not had to travel across the miles are so flavorful and succulent, I wait all year for that first taste of summer!
By August, tomatoes are so plentiful, either in your garden or at the market that you might find yourself with a glut. I’ve got some great ideas for you to use up a bumper crop to either enjoy now or even freeze for those coming days when fresh local tomatoes are a fond memory.
My favorite low-stress recipe is Salsa Ranchera.
Cut your ripe tomatoes in half and place them skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet, preferably with a rim. The tomatoes will ooze juice, so it’s great to catch it. Add a handful of peeled garlic cloves scattered around the sheet and one or two jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut in half. Roast the sheet of veggies at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tomato skins are brown and blistered. When they are cooled off, pulse them in a blender to create a chunky sauce, and add salt and black pepper to taste. This is great on tortilla chips but also makes an excellent sauce for grilled chicken or steak. Salsa Ranchera will freeze, too.
Gazpacho is another tasty way to dispatch ripe tomatoes.
I think of this as a cold blended salad, and I love to have this on hand to start a meal in hot weather. I fill my blender pitcher half full with chunked-up ripe tomatoes, then add two Persian cucumbers, one half of a green bell pepper, one clove of garlic, and a small sliver of red onion and blend. Add 2 teaspoons of your favorite vinegar and four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and blend again. Chill well and serve with an additional spoonful of olive oil.
Homemade tomato sauce is primo.
The New York Times recently published Eric Kim’s pomodoro sauce for spaghetti, which is a simple puree of cooked tomatoes. Chef Kim uses a food mill to puree and strain the tomatoes, but I recommend a high-speed blender instead. The blender will blend the tomato peels efficiently, reducing waste and retaining nutrition. Simply cook 2 or 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes in a heavy bottomed pot with a little olive oil until the tomatoes break down and evaporate slightly. You can use a mix of any tomato you have on hand. This sauce is also great to freeze for a cold day later in the year.
Let's cook together.
If you’re looking for more ways to use fresh produce in your meals or improve your intuitive cooking skills, you can also book a one-on-one coaching class with a Fēst chef. We are available to Zoom into your kitchen and help you master the recipe of your dreams. Cooking along with your family is a great way to create memories, and even if you are not in the same room, you can spend creative time together! I hope to see you soon!
Fēst, pronounced 'feast', is a collective of Chefs, Pastry Chefs and Sommeliers who teach guided, interactive and completely customizable classes to cooking-curious people of all skill levels around the world.