Between the heat of late summer, bugs, and hurricane Irene, my garden has seen better days. While September is prime harvest season on a farm, the offerings from my backyard are meager this year, with one exception. The tangle of tomato plants in one raised bed, generally referred to as "the tomato forest" managed to blow flat without snapping, and so survived the hurricane. The cherry tomato plants are prolific, and just when I think I've picked the last of the fruits, another wave of tomatoes arrives. This year I have Sungolds (which yield a ton of sweet orange cherry tomatoes), a red standard cherry tomato, large heirloom Brandywines for slicing, and some seeds from last year called michael's wedding that sprouted up around the garden, and I let a few of them grow (those are tiny red tomatoes that spit when picked, so I didn't buy them again, but they are fine for eating right off the vine).
Every few days we pick a bowlful, about a pint of cherry tomatoes, often they are eaten in the distance between the garden and the kitchen door and don't make it into a meal. With the weather turning colder last week, a warm dinner was on my mind. Simple and quick, I boiled some whole grain pasta, and started slicing the cherry tomatoes in half for roasting. I then turned my attention to finely chopping a large amount of onion and garlic, which cooked at a low heat in plenty of olive oil until they were tender and fragrant. The tomatoes were added, sauteed for a moment, then stuck under the broiler to blister and release their juices. The rest of the dinner came together mostly as an after thought; some spinach leaves got tossed in with the pasta and black beans were added for protein. I'd had illusions of fish joining this meal rather than beans: some canned salmon left over from our hurricane provisions, but fish from a can just wasn't doing it for me that night. Lastly, I snagged a handful of marjoram on my way out the backdoor, tossed it with the pasta, and we had a meal. My kids complained that this was not what they thought I meant when I said we were having pasta with tomato sauce for dinner, but they grudgingly ate it anyway, and I was content with the tangy juices of the fresh tomatoes, and the olive oil, thickly laced with sweet onion and garlic. Nothing fancy or magnificent about it, just a simple good meal.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
1pint cherry tomatoes or 3/4 pound other tomatoes
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
any fresh or dry herbs you like such as marjoram, basil, oregano, thyme, mint etc...
- Finely dice onion and mince garlic. Saute onion in olive oil over low heat in a large wide skillet. Season well with salt and pepper. When tender, add garlic. Saute until garlic is fragrant, do not brown.
- While onions are cooking, slice cherry tomatoes in half, or cut larger tomatoes into a large dice. Set oven to broil on high.
- When onion and garlic mixture is very tender, add tomatoes and toss to coat with oil. Place under the broiler and cook until tomatoes are blistered and browned on edges. Remove from oven and toss with pasta and herbs, adding any ingredients you like: spinach, zucchini, beans, fish, etc...a fine grating of cheese is always good too. Enjoy!
What are you making with the end of summer produce?