05 September, 2012

Stewed Heirloom Tomatoes

Late August / early September is primetime for home garden tomatoes. Every year at this time,  it seems like every tomato vine in my garden bursts forth with ripe fruit, and what was a steady supply of a couple of toms a day from about July or so becomes a flood of plump ripe tomatoes that need to be eaten or canned or else. Luckily, there are plenty of ways my family enjoys tomatoes both raw and cooked.  Last night, for example, I made a batch of stewed tomatoes as a supper side dish using a few heirlooms freshly snagged off the vines.

Stewed tomatoes are an easy thing to make - the ingredients are common, amounts are flexible, and you can pretty much toss it together and leave it to simmer on a back burner with minimal attention while you go about the rest of your meal prep. And as good as store-bought canned stewed tomatoes are, you just can't beat the fresher taste of homemade.

Start with three or four (or more) ripe tomatoes. Peel them by scalding them in boiling water, then cut them into big chunks and put them in a saucepan. (For this batch, I used all heirlooms: a Yellow Valencia, a White Beauty, a huge Cherokee Black, and a lovely red San Marzano.)

Chop half a medium onion, a green pepper, and a tender rib of celery (leaves and all.) Add these to the pot and put it over low heat.

Stir in a tablespoon or so of sugar, a good sprinkle of salt, and some chopped basil. Keep the pot over low heat and allow it to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, until the onions are tender, giving it a stir now and then to keep it from scorching.  Taste it before serving - you'll probably want to adjust the salt before bringing it to the table.

Remember what I said about flexibility? You can play with this recipe a lot to get the flavors you desire. Add a clove of garlic if you like. I didn't use a green bell pepper last night, because I had a few (unfortunately mild) Anaheims from the garden ready to use. It's just that kind of recipe. There's the final result. It was awesome.


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