Tomatoes, Part II
Bowls filled with tomatoes in varying stages of ripening line my kitchen counter. Some are ready for canning, others are solid green, and the rest range from thinking about turning red to almost ripe.
My goal of canning 100 jars is at 69, and I am quite sure there will be enough to achieve that number. Last year was really awful, and if two friends hadn’t given me some of their tomatoes, we wouldn’t have had more than a few jars. I really don’t like store-bought cans of tomatoes, so that was a blessing.
One year, our plants produced so many tomatoes that I was able to can 50 quarts of juice as well as dozens of jars of cut-up tomatoes. That was wonderful!
This year’s canning has also resulted in 18 jars of very hot salsa. The peppers did extremely well, too.
Alas, this year’s abundant tomato crop seemed to make up for the lack of pickles. Our cucumber plants didn’t produce more than a handful of fruit, resulting in just enough to add to a half-dozen salads.
The counter is cluttered, but it’s a good kind of cluttered. When winter comes and fresh tomatoes aren’t available, I’ll know I have plenty for all the meals I hope to make.
In the meantime, I’m using some fresh ones nearly everyday, and not just for the traditional lettuce and tomato salads. Lettuce is still coming in, too, so we continue to enjoy fresh-picked lettuce for our almost daily salads.
Every once in a while a cool night prompts me to make a soup. Other times, I experiment with one of the abundance of recipes I’ve gathered through the years for cold dishes.
To skin tomatoes, simply plunge them in a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cold water. The skins should come off with very little effort.
Here’s my new soup recipe.
Tomato, Lentil and Sausage Soup (6 servings)
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry lentils
about 6 cups water, or for more flavor, 6 cups chicken stock
about 5 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled or not, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 chicken sausages or a half pound of kielbasa, cut into one-inch pieces
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the oil until translucent, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add lentils, water or stock and tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Add the potatoes, sausage and spices and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on the side.
For a nutritious salad, substantial enough for a light lunch when served with biscuits or another bread, this marinated tomato salad is a perfect choice.
Marinated Tomato Salad (serves 6 to 8 as a side dish, 4 as a lunch)
6 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 or 3 red and/or yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 cup pitted black olives, drained
12 ounces mozzarella balls or the equivalent in cubed mozzarella cheese
One-third cup olive oil
One-quarter cup red wine vinegar
One-quarter cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
One-quarter cup chopped green onions or finely chopped yellow onions
One-half teaspoon salt
One-quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 or more tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh marjoram, or 1 teaspoon dried
Place prepared vegetables in a glass serving dish. Stir in the cheese. Combine the dressing ingredients in a tightly fitted covered jar and shake well. Pour over vegetables. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 or 4 hours before serving.
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