The tomatoes are coming in here at Little Creek Farm. I have been battling our local murder of crows (I love that collective name, by the way) for the rights to the fruits of my labor. This particular family had been marauding all over the cove. They hit one neighbor's garden everytime he planted corn or beans. Another has been losing tomatoes left and right. They finally hit our garden about 10 days ago. They wait until the tomato is perfect to strike. Then they take a bite or two and move on to the next red nugget. Bastards. Anyway, I've set up a little system to see if I can annoy them enough to keep them at bay (Lord knows the scarecrow's not doing his job...). It, along with a few other experimental things will be going into this week's garden post. Let's just say that I'm experimenting so you don't have to!
In spite of the crows, I'm hauling in quite a few tomatoes. I'm making the sauce up in batches and sticking it in the freezer until I have enough for one big canning operation. I love my new food mill. Tomato paste has never been easier. I can't wait until apple season, as slim as it will be here, to make apple sauce. We've also been getting loads of Principe Borghese tomatoes. I now see while everyone raves about them. I want to make sun-dried tomatoes, but the humidity is just too high here (and after buying the food mill, it will be a while before I can purchase a food dehydrater). So, I thought they just might be perfect for one of our favorite things to do tomatoes - here's the recipe taken from The Italian Country Table, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (I highly recommend the book, if just for this recipe and her very simple, lovely pizza dough!). I enjoy the stories of the farmers and artisans who raise and create the ingredients as much as the recipes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Take around 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of medium-sized tomatoes. In this case, I used the smaller Principe Borgheses. Core and cut them in half. Larger tomatoes can be cut into smaller sizes. In a half-sheet pan, or shallow metal baking pan (must be metal), arrange the slices cut side up about 1/2 inch apart. Coat with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F. Bake another 30 minutes and lower the temperature to 300 F. Bake another 30 minutes (you see where this is going) or a little longer until the edges of the tomatoes start to darken. If they haven't yet colored you can lower the temperature to 250 F and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and cool 20 minutes. Transfer them to a shallow glass or china dish and pour their oil over them. Let them mellow, uncovered, at room temperature for 4-6 hours.
You can layer them in a covered container with the oil and store in the refrigerator up to 6 days, or freeze (as we do). They are a great taste of summer in the middle of winter.
Cooking them this way intensifies the natural sugars and mimic what Sicilian farm women did with the tomatoes by placing them in the cooling bread ovens after the loaves came out. Just think you can heat up the oven to make a nice crusty loaf or two and make these tomatoes to go along! Enjoy.