Green Tomatoes Galore!!

Anyone out there with more Green Tomatoes than you know what to do with, be it CSA member,  home gardener (or neighbor of either) this blog is for you!

It seems to me that the Green Tomato is a little misunderstood. I’m always rooting for the underdog,  so I went searching for something to give this end of the season “extra” a fighting chance. I found just what I was looking for, recipes, helpful hints and true admiration from Jolene George of Oregonlive.com. Jolene writes,

Why do we ignore these underaged beauties? Probably because too few cooks know the epicurean diversity of green tomatoes. This is the season to change that. To start your new culinary adventure, try this taste test: Take a ¼-inch slice of a medium-size green tomato and sample it. Your taste buds will register a firm, fresh fruit with an immature tomato flavor and a hint of sweetness similar to a zucchini.

Now imagine these garden orphans in some delicious preparations: coated and fried until crisp (yes, fried green tomatoes!) for a savory appetizer; baked in a gratin under a luxurious layer of cheese and herbs; sauteed to serve warm on a splendid salad for lunch; tossed with crisp bacon, garlic and bread crumbs in a plate of pasta for a quick weekday meal. And green tomatoes can do dessert, too — they convincingly cuddle up to the richness and the texture of local apples and crunchy hazelnuts in crisps, quick breads and pies.

Unripe tomatoes often have a woodier stem and a unique core piece. This hard, white core section is not always continuous with the stem, so you have to look for it. It’s small, about the size of a pea and sits in the tomato somewhere within the top inch of where the stem attaches. You can see and feel a hard white piece that’s different from the rest of the fruit if you slice a tomato in half.

When you’re ready to bring your newfound appreciation into the kitchen, consider combining green tomatoes with other late-summer bounty such as zucchini, stone fruits, onions, apples and hazelnuts. Golden-brown, caramelized green tomatoes produce a deep, rich flavor that is perfect with sauteed nectarines, peaches and apricots. Even when baked, they hold their supple but firm texture, and develop a delicate sweetness similar to an apple.

Many people think of green tomatoes as less desirable than their more outgoing red siblings. But cooks who understand these introverted green beauties can promote their richness, versatility and color appeal to the world. And if you really get a taste for them, you may just find yourself planting next year’s tomatoes a wee bit later than normal … just to guarantee a supply.

And now, time for the recipes:

Spaghetti and Green Tomato-Bacon Sauce

This quick, anytime pasta dish works well for a quick weekday supper or for late evening dining. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese creates a creamy sauce when combined with the pasta water. Crispy bacon, sweet tomatoes and vibrant parsley accent the warm, white spaghetti strands. Always serve pasta on warmed plates.

Ingredients

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound green tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons minced pepperoncini
  • 1/2 pound pasta
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain and reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add the olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 60 seconds.

Raise the heat to medium high. Add the tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and start to turn golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and pepperoncini and cook until the some of the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes are a bit saucy.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta.

Put the drained pasta back into the pot and add the cooked tomatoes, cheese, 1/2 cup parsley and cooked bacon. Toss until combined, adding reserved pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta among warm plates, sprinkle with additional parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.

And if that isn’t enough to get you excited about Green Tomatoes, read on!

Green Tomato and Apple Hazelnut Crisp

Warm seasonal fruit, fragrant spices and a vanilla-overtoned hazelnut crust sings with the tastes of early autumn. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or, my favorite, just warm by itself.

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (see note)
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium green tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, blend 6 tablespoons of flour, the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter and pulse until blended. Add the nuts and process for 8 more pulses or until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Place the apples and tomatoes in a large bowl. Stir in the lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, remaining 3 tablespoons flour, and sugar. Stir into the fruit, mixing gently.

Spray an 8-inch-square baking pan or 2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the apple filling to the pan (do not put the topping on yet). Bake until the filling is bubbly, about 35 minutes.

Remove the topping from the refrigerator and sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: To toast hazelnuts, spread the shelled nuts in a shallow pan and roast in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the skins crack. Rub warm nuts with a rough kitchen towel or between your hands to remove as much skin as possible.

Makes you see the Green Tomato a little differently, doesn’t it? I also came across this yummy sounding salsa recipe:

Green Tomato Salsa

3 – 4 Green Tomatoes (chopped finely)
2 – 3 Peppers (a variety of colors and ‘heats’ also depends on preference, chopped finely)
1/2 medium Red Onion (chopped finely)
2 – 3 Cloves Garlic (crushed)
1 TBSP Cilantro (chopped)
1 TBSP Parsley (chopped)
1 Lime (juice)
1/4 C. Ume Plum Vinegar
Salt & Ground Pepper to taste
Agave or Stevia to taste

If it is possible to mix all the ingredients and let it sit for at least a 1/2 hour before serving, all the wonderful flavors marinate and blend nicely.

For anyone wanting to preserve their bounty, you can freeze them (see below), pickle them, or can them as in this relish. I found this on Allrecipes.com where it has garnered 5 stars!

Green Tomato Relish By: Linda McDaniel
“This delicious, tangy relish of green tomatoes,  onions, bell peppers, and spices, is perfect with sandwiches, potatoes, cheese, and lots of other entrees. A jar of this makes a great gift, too!”

Ingredients

  • 24 large green tomatoes
  • 3 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 3 green bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 12 large onions
  • 3 tablespoons celery seed
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar

Method

  1. In a grinder or food processor, coarsely grind tomatoes, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and onions. (You may need to do this in batches.) Line a large colander with cheesecloth, place in sink or in a large bowl, and pour in tomato mixture to drain for 1 hour.
  2. In a large, non-aluminum stockpot, combine tomato mixture, celery seed, mustard seed, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Sterilize enough jars and lids to hold relish (12 one-pint jars, or 6 one-quart jars). Pack relish into sterilized jars, making sure there are no spaces or air pockets. Fill jars all the way to top. Screw on lids.
  4. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with boiling water. Carefully lower jars into pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary, until tops of jars are covered by 2 inches of water. Bring water to a full boil, then cover and process for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove jars from pot and place on cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press top of each lid with finger, ensuring that seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Relish can be stored for up to a year.

Freezing

Here’s what Joy of Cooking says about freezing Green Tomatoes for later use.

Select firm, shiny green fruit. Wash, core and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Pack into rigid freezer containers with freezer paper between layers. Will keep up to 4 months.

Hope this helps you put your Green Tomatoes to good use (and out of the compost pile)!

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