Wednesday, July 21, 2010

preserving summer

If you’re anything like me, I find that sometimes the simplest things can be so satisfying. Whether it’s a perfectly pulled shot of espresso poured over a creamy frothed cup of milk in the morning. A handful of fresh fruit, bursting with juice and flavor that can only come after it has finished its course abiding on the vine. Or maybe it’s a crusty loaf of bread that has been doused in extra virgin olive oil and rich sweet balsamic. These are definitely some of my simple “food” pleasures.

With summer now in full swing, produce seems to be overflowing at the farm stands. Berries are plump, lettuces are lush and green and the root vegetables that are showing up are tender and sweet. But more than that, it’s the tomatoes that seem to grab me. As soon as I walk up to my local farm stand I can smell that earthy sweet fragrance that only comes from a freshly picked tomato. They are displayed on large rustic wood tables almost flaunting themselves; they seem to take center stage. Large beefsteak, heirloom varieties that hit a wide spectrum of color from golden yellow to dark purple, even some bright green “zebra” tomatoes boasting their white stripes.

One way to take a little bit of summer and stash it away for later in the year is to take some of those fresh off the vine tomatoes that are at the peak of the season and roast them for those times during the “tomato wilderness”- the long dark time between locally grown tomatoes. For roasting I prefer the smaller roma style tomatoes, their meaty, firm flesh are just right for roasting low and slow.

Simply rinse the ripe plum tomatoes and lay out on a clean kitchen towel. Slice lengthwise and lay in a single layer on ridged cookie sheets. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Roast at 325° for about 1 ½ until the tomatoes have shriveled up a bit and are nicely caramelized. Once they come out of the oven drizzle with a little more olive oil and let cool. Once cool, put in freezer bags or other storage container with a bay leaf or two and seal tightly. These can be stored in the fridge for 1week or in the freezer up to a year.

These are a wonderful addition to sauces and stews, a topping for homemade pizza or even as a hors d’oeuvre served with some goat cheese on a toasted slice of baguette.



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