Updated: Jan 29
Gardening: Cheaper than therapy...And you get tomatoes!
Lots and lots of tomatoes! There are so many things you can make with tomatoes. A single tomato plant graces the gardener with a lot of fruit. We only have 6 plants and we easily harvest 4-5 lbs twice a week. We pickled, roasted, stewed, sauteed with pasta, tossed with salads, sliced on sandwiches, gave to neighbors and co-workers...you get the jist. Here are 3 recipes that I feel are outstanding and I want to share them with you.
Homemade Crock Pot Marinara Sauce
2-3 quarts of yellow pear tomatoes (original recipe says 2-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes)
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
1 medium onion coarsely chopped (I like to saute the onions in a pan for 2-3 minutes before adding)
2 whole bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
½ tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.
Stir well to combine. Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for six hours.
Stir the sauce and remove the bay leaves. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and some freshly ground pepper as desired.
Optional: since the original recipe calls for canned tomatoes (which means no skins) and I opted for fresh yellow pear tomatoes (skins on obviously); however, several seconds in the Blendtec takes care of the "tomato skin issue". You can pour directly into freezer containers.
Roasted Cherry Tomato Salsa
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 tomatillos, optional
2 teaspoons olive or coconut oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 white onion, quartered
1-2 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
1-2 clove garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño pepper, halved
2 teaspoons lime juice
Preheat oven to 325°F. Toss cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeño (and optional tomatillos) lightly with oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Roast for 15 minutes.
While veggies roast, mix together cilantro, lime juice, and sea salt in a medium bowl.
Once cooled, give a rough chop to the tomatoes and onions and fold into the fresh ingredients. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if necessary. For a smoother consistency, blend 1/3 of mixture and fold back in.
Store in the fridge in an airtight glass jar for up to 2 weeks—if you don’t eat it all first.
Absolutely delicious...I suggest serving it warm! We made a few tweaks to the original recipe, so take that into consideration where it varies from the googled version.
Homemade Bloody Mary Mix with Fresh Seasonal Tomatoes
Bloody Mary Mix
2-3 quarts of tomatoes
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2-3 squirts Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
2-3 dashes Tabasco or Cholula hot sauce
1 tablespoon juice from Mezzetta jalapeño stuffed or garlic stuffed olives
Lime and Lemon wedges
Optional: fresh basil, thyme or other herbs; horseradish, etc.
Cut tomatoes in large pieces, or cherry tomatoes in half, and place in pot with salt, sugar, Worcestershire, hot sauce and other desired ingredient. Bring to medium-low heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until tomatoes cook down and become tender. Add 1/4 cup of water if needed.
When tomatoes take on a soupy texture, blend mixture with immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Push through a sieve if you prefer a less thick Bloody Mary.
Place in refrigerator until chilled before using.
Note: After pulling out the solids from the tomato puree, I found that I actually prefer them to be left in, so you may prefer it that way as well.
Mixing your Bloody Mary
6 oz Homemade Bloody Mary Mix (see above)
1.5-2 oz vodka (pepper vodka suggested)
Lots and lots of Condiments as desired: olives, pickles, limes, celery, green onions, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.
Pour homemade bloody mary mix and pepper vodka in a glass over ice.
Stir to combine.
Garnish with desired condiments.
Again, several liberties were taken with the original recipe to customize it to our own tastes. The major change is instead of 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes (as stated in the original recipe), I substituted 2-3 quarts of Yellow pear cherry tomatoes since we have a bumper crop of them in our garden. Additionally, I had to add sugar to counteract the bitterness with the increased ratio of tomato skins.
Secondly, the original recipe had pickle or olive juice as an option...what?!? I feel that it is an absolute must AND it needs to be the juice from the jalapeño or garlic stuffed olives! A must!
Also, I liberally salt and pepper as I mix, and use both, slices of lemon and lime. Squeeze and throw them right in the glass so it continues to season your cocktail to the last drop.
Lastly, I think a pepper vodka, either purchased or made yourself, is the final must. There is a layering of flavors that occurs...it ends up being a much more complexed flavor experience. Alton Brown has a simple recipe for making your own pepper vodka which is what I like to use.
Okay, so maybe it is a completely different recipe than when you google the link above. What I loved about this particular Bloody Mary Mix recipe from forkintheroad.com was their stewing and seasoning of the tomatoes before mixing the drink. While mixing the Bloody Mary you can then customize it to your guest. I like more worcestershire, while my hubby likes more Tabasco. I always use the brand names that I've mentioned for a reason. I typically don't mind using generic brands because often they are the same product and you only pay extra for the Brand name...Not so in this case. I have tried store brands of olives and hot sauces and they just simply aren't as tasty to me.
So, I am dubbing this one the "Golden Mary" because of all my unique changes and due to its stunning color. Let me know if you agree. In fact, I think you should like and share and add your own thoughts about your own Bloody Mary journey.
Healthy, happy eating and continued good growing!