The best use of too many tomatoes is to make some sort of sauce or passata for use in winter. Simplest is to skin them, squeeze out most of seeds and roughly chop. Cook in a stockpot with some salt and when they have become a lovely mush, allow to cool, transfer to sealable freezer containers and freeze. I tip these frozen tomato iceblocks directly into casserole pots or soup pots, or else simmer and reduce in a frying pan with various additions such as a bit of red wine or sherry vinegar or capers, to make speedy pasta sauces. It is more fiddly to store the tomatoes in sealed jars as the sterilizing and sealing of the jars must be done properly.
Once you have made lots of sauce, here are a few other ideas for your abundant tomato crop!
Fill small blind-baked pastry cases with chunky, well-seasoned, garlickly, fresh tomato sauce that has been reduced until thick. Add some roasted peeled sweet peppers, if available. Stir in freshly chopped basil and warm for 5 mins in an oven set at 220degC. Serve topped with creme fraiche or soft fresh goat's cheese and a dollop of tapenade.
The quality of the tomatoes, sherry vinegar and oil is what makes a splendid rather than ordinary gazpacho. Find my recipe in The Cook's Companion book or App.
Reheat oven to 120°C. Fit a metal rack over a baking tray. Arrange tomato halves on rack, cut-side up. Brush with a generous quantity of oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Bake for 4–5 hours until tomatoes have shrunk and edges are shrivelled.
Sauce Vierge for Fish
Season diced ripe tomato with salt, pepper and a little wine vinegar and add a generous quantity of herbs and an even more generous quantity of barely warmed extra-virgin olive oil. Serve as a sauce with grilled fish. I like it spooned over fried eggs!
Fried Green Tomato
Dip thickly sliced green tomato into lightly whisked egg and then polenta and fry in EVOO until golden and crunchy. Great with anchovies, bacon or sausages, or just as they are.
The Cook’s Companion App and book.
Recently, I asked my social media community what crops were overflowing in their garden. And it seems that many of your gardens are abundant with zucchini! Tending a kitchen garden has wonderful benefits, however sometimes a certain vegetable or fruit comes into season and suddenly we have too much of a good thing! Once you have exhausted your repertoire of dishes for that particular ingredient, and neighbours and friends are well stocked with gifted produce, what then? I’ve put together some ideas and suggestions for your zucchini stockpile.
I will be working on some more guides like these in the future. If you have any questions or suggestions, please email me at email@example.com
Toss paper-thin slices of zucchini with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and gently mix with rocket leaves or freshly chopped herbs. Shave over a little parmesan or ricotta salata and serve with bagna cauda (anchovy dipping sauce).
Zucchini and Pea Pasta Sauce
Saute sliced zucchini in extra-virgin olive oil until lightly coloured, then toss in a handful of torn basil leaves and a generous qty of boiled, buttered peas and cream (allow 1-2 tablespoons cream for each cup of peas). Grind on pepper, toss with cooked pasta and serve with parmesan cheese.
Giant Zucchini Cake
Based on a recipe from the late Roger Verve, the Cook's Companion features a recipe perfect for that monster zucchini that grew when your back was turned - like this one grown in St Michael's College Primary kitchen garden! See the Cook's Companion book or App for the full recipe.
Slow Cooked Zucchini
Most zucchini are cooked lightly so they retain a little texture. This dish is a contrast, with the vegetable becoming soft and yielding - a good reminder that there is always more than one way of doing things. Find the full recipe in the Cook's Companion book or App.
Zucchini Flower Stuffings
Stuff zucchini flowers with finely chopped bocconcini tossed with mashed anchovy fillets; finely chopped mortadella sausage mixed with garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan and drops of extra-virgin olive oil to make a paste; or very fresh ricotta cheese mixed with finely chopped spinach or silver beet and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
The Cook’s Companion App and book.
Refreshed and relaxed after my holiday I have returned to a riot of colour in my garden. The pink of the agastache and the dusty-salmon eupatorium are magnificent and thrusting 1.5 metres high, spiked here and there with deep-blue salvia, and the silvery tasselled tops of the grasses. I will have to hurry to make a final batch of pesto as the basil is starting to go to seed. Already there is a sense of the season changing. On my walk this morning the air was cool and there was a strong scent of damp eucalyptus.
Since returning home I have welcomed the opportunity to catch up with friends and family, to eat some memorable dishes, even some I have cooked myself, and to attend events. Most recently I made two visits to the National Gallery of Victoria to admire the very varied special works that are part of the NGV Triennial. I urge any art lover to visit the NGV International to enjoy some amazing art. The Triennial continues until mid-April so there is time to plan for it.