What to do on a rainy Friday night when your boyfriend is sick in bed?
Rainy Friday Night (View from front porch)
& you have a counter full of tomatoes and tomatillos calling your name?
Gorgeous Heirloom Tomatoes grown by farm intern Margaret @ Garden of Eve Farm
Heirloom Tomatillos; Margaret's Secret Stash
You make sauce! Lots and lots of sauce! Some for dinners next week and some to be canned and put up for the dark days of Winter. Ain’t nothing better to take the chill off a January night than a pasta dinner made from Summer’s bounty.
This particular night, I wasn’t in the mood to make a giant batch of sauce. Me and a giant vat of sauce just didn’t seem right. Plus, I had several ideas and flavor profiles floating in my head. So I decided to go crazy and make 4 different sauces, one for each burner. I was thinking something Mexican with the tomatillos, something Indian with the Green Zebra tomatoes, and 2 Italian sauces with the Rainbows, Yellow, & Orange varieties.
Purple Tomatillo, a Mexican heirloom variety.
I decided to start with the tomatillos. These gorgeous specimens were grown by Margaret on her plot of land up at Garden of Eve farm. I personally love tomatillos, but these were by far the best I have ever tasted. They were sweet and tangy to a degree that I have never experienced; they were so sweet I even ate some raw which was definitely a first for me.
In the past, I have had amazing success with roasting tomatillos and so I decided to go that way again. I shucked the husks off of all the tomatillos and threw them in a roasting pan. I added two heads of garlic and a couple of red peppers to the mix which I planned to use in my Italian sauces. I had preheated the oven to 4oo degrees; Tomatoes roast quite fast and were ready in about 15 minutes. (At that point I took the tinfoil that covered the pan, wrapping it around the garlic and peppers which needed more time in the oven to fully roast.)
Next the tomatillos found their way to the food processor. I combined all the tomatillos, the juice from roasting pan, 3 jalapenos, and about 4 garlic cloves. After about a minute of metal whirling, the mix was ready for the stovetop. I cooked the sauce down for about an hour and then packed it into the fridge to be used in an enchilada dish sometime in the near future. (Look for a post on Vegan Enchiladas with a Spicy Tomatillo Sauce sometime soon.)
A damn fine heirloom, Green Zebras are often confused with an unripened tomato. Au contraire! These babies are sweet and ready to eat. I know to some people cooking heirloom tomatoes is something close to heresy. I however have a different philosophy; I happen to love cooked tomatoes and find that heirlooms make some of the best sauces around and don’t require major seasoning to be absolutely divine. Granted, due to the fact that me and Yo subscribe to a MegaCombo share on Saturdays and a Full Veg share on Wednesdays plus we ordered an Heirloom Tomato subsciption we were receiving close to and sometimes more than 15 pounds of heirlooms a week. Naturally, we HAD to cook up some of them; this girl can only eat so many raw salads…
The idea of a tomato curry had been rolling around in my brain for awhile. Cruising for recipes online, I found an entry for Baked Pierogies with Tomato Curry Sauce on the Shaman; Mumblings, Rumbligs, Spells… blog. I am filing this whole pieroiges and tomato curry thing away for later; sounds tight. For now, I modified the recipe a little, mainly bailing on the water because I didn’t feel like adding it and the green peppers because I didn’t have any on hand. Here is my version of Shaman’s Tomato Curry:
- 5 Green Zebras, quartered
- 1 Green Zebra, liquidized in the food processor
- 2 onions, cut into rings
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
Caramelize the onion slices and sizzle the garlic in some olive oil. Add the chopped tomatoes and the liquidized tomato. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir in the garam masala. Salt to taste. Simmer another 5 minutes. This turned out to be crazy good. (Stay tuned for more details!)
4 sauces; Clockwise starting @ top left with Roasted Rainbow, Italian Red, Green Zebra Curry, & Roasted Tomatillo Sauces.
My third creation of the night was a sauce utilizing all the orange and yellow heirlooms I had on hand. I wanted a bright sauce with a rich in your face flavor. To this affect I added the 2 roasted garlic heads (about 16 cloves of sweet garlicky flavor) into the mix. This sauce was comprised of 3 large orange tomatoes and 4 smaller yellow tomatoes together with about 16 roasted garlic cloves. I put the mix on the stove and added the roasted red peppers, all nice and diced, and set it to simmering. This sauce was definitely my favorite of the night, bright color with an even brighter taste. (This sauce was gone in 2 days flat; 1 can was put up for winter and will be a savored treat no doubt.)
A good night's work. The finished product.
The final sauce was a good old red sauce. I pureed every red heirloom on hand and then set to simmering with a handful of chopped purple basil and lots of onion. People say that you can’t use heirloom tomatoes for sauces. these sauces are simple proof that that theory is dead wrong. No need for sugar or salt or anything fancy. Just heirlooms, a food processor, and some heat and you will have a meal that will make your taste buds sing. Heirlooms seem fancy to us, since we have been bored silly by the produce in our grocery stores, but in general these are just seeds from other regions of the world or garden favorites and I have no doubt that the people who originally grew them were cooking up some mean tomato dishes with their tomatoes. Trust me when I tell you that you should do the same.
Pictured above is a nice bounty for a night at the stove. On the far left is the roasted rainbow sauce, followed by green zebra curry (topped off by some quick radish pickles I whipped up for kicks). Next is the pyramid of red sauce for winter, and then the tomatillo sauce.
There is still time to go out and get some tomatoes–no more in the weekly csa shares but there should be some beauties left at the market–and can some of your own goodness for winter. There is plenty of advice online on how to put up sauce. (Search You Tube for some amazing tutorials) All the varieties that I was going to can had the added ingredient of a tablespoon or two of lemon juice in order to increase the acidity and prevent botulism. (Don’t live in fear of botulism. Our grandmas all used to put up tons of things for winter and they survived….)
So heres to a taste of summer sometime this winter. Hurrah for Heirloom Tomatoes!