Remember earlier this summer, when your first tomato appeared, and you joyously picked it from the vine and thought of all the canning you were going to do, and all of the salsa and other great tomatoey things you would make?
Now, remember yesterday when you glanced in disbelief and dread at your multiple mammoth cherry tomato plants that you just picked clean two days ago, but have somehow sprouted hundreds of new perfectly ripe babies – again?
Yes I love tomatoes, but this time of year I find myself just looking for the easiest way to use up as many as possible. If you find yourself in the same boat – here are a couple of ideas for maximum tomato usage.
The Tik Tok Tomato Feta Pasta Bake
This is the easiest recipe of all time, and it is fantastic.
2 pints cherry tomatoes
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
1 T each of dried basil and oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 block feta cheese (typically 6 to 8 ounces)
1 peeled and smashed clove of garlic
16 oz. pasta, such as fettuccine or linguine
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the tomatoes in a 9x13 casserole dish and toss with all but 2 T of the olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Set the block of feta on top of the tomatoes in the center of the dish.
Put the whole clove of garlic in with the tomatoes.
Pour additional olive oil on top of the feta, then sprinkle the feta and tomatoes with the dried herbs. Add some freshly cut basil if you have it.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the feta begins to slightly brown.
During the last 10 minutes of cooking, prepare your pasta according to the directions and drain.
Remove the feta and tomatoes from the oven and stir it together, then mix it into the pasta and serve.
Creamy Tomato Soup
This is my favorite tomato soup recipe, and it was passed on to me by my friend Lew, though I don’t know its origin. If I had to guess, I’d say possibly from “Cooks Illustrated.”
4 T butter (1/2 stick)
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
70 ounces of plum tomatoes with their juice
8 large, fresh basil leaves, slivered
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 C chicken broth
½ t ground allspice
2 C heavy cream
1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add onions, carrot and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables have wilted – 10 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and their juice, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the stock and allspice, and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 50 minutes.
3. Puree the soup, in batches, with an immersion stick blender (or use a food processor or regular blender), and add it back to the pot, add the cream, and adjust the seasonings. Makes 8 to 10 portions.