8 Recipes for Home-Grown Tomatoes ...

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If you’re a keen gardener, you’ll be hoping for a bumper crop of tomatoes this year -- and may be looking for some recipes for home-grown tomatoes. What usually happens, though, is that you produce enough to make a tiny salad and wonder why you don’t just buy them instead. However, if your wishes come true and you end up with more than you know what to do with, here are some fabulous recipes for home-grown tomatoes.

1. Bruschetta

Sometimes the simplest recipes for home-grown tomatoes -- or anything else -- are the best. This particular recipe couldn’t be much easier to make. Perfect for a snack or starter, bruschetta is going to be immensely tasty with the superior flavour of tomatoes from your garden.

Ingredients:

• 5 tomatoes, sliced in half

• 3-4 mushrooms, sliced

• 1 clove garlic, chopped

• 3 tbsp olive oil

• salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 slice bread, toasted

• basil to garnish

Directions:

• Pan-fry the tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic in the oil for three to four minutes until cooked through.

• Season, place on the toast and serve garnished with basil.

2. Patatas Bravas

Have you ever sampled tapas? Then you may have come across this dish, which is one of my favourites. Potatoes are served in a delicious spicy sauce (tone the spice down a bit if your palate doesn’t appreciate anything too spicy).

Ingredients:

Potatoes:

• 3.3 lb old potatoes

• Olive oil, enough to shallow fry the potatoes.

Sauce:

• 6 ripe tomatoes

• 1 onion

• 1 garlic clove

• 1 level tablespoon plain flour

• 1½ to 2½ teaspoons hot paprika

• ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds

• 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

• Salt and Pepper

Directions:

• Finely chop the onion and garlic.

• Blend the tomatoes (fresh or tinned) to an even consistency.

• Peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 3 cm (1in) cubes.

• Pour the olive oil into the pan on a low to medium heat and add the chopped onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes turning the onions frequently until they are translucent.

• Add the hot paprika, cumin seeds and red wine vinegar to the onions and mix in well for a minute or so.

• Add the tomatoes to the pan and mix all the ingredients together well.

• Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Have a taste and add salt and pepper.

• Whilst stirring, sprinkle in the flour and make sure it's well mixed in. This will give the sauce the typical thickness for Patatas Bravas.

• Next, use a blender to puree the sauce. Then gently force the mixture through a sieve. The back of a large spoon is ideal for this. At the end, the sieve should contain the majority of the tomato pips and sauce.

• Place the cubed potatoes in salted boiling water and cook on a medium heat for 8 minutes.

• Pour olive oil in the pan to a depth of about ½ inch and heat to medium heat. Carefully place the potato cubes in the oil and cook until they are golden brown. This will take about 10 minutes depending on how hot the oil is. Keep turning the potatoes whilst they are frying so that they are an even colour.

• Serve the potatoes on warm plates and sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Then either pour the sauce over them or serve the sauce separately.

3. Classic Fresh Tomato Sauce

Here’s an ideal recipe for home-grown tomatoes if you really do end up with lots of them. The sauce can be frozen (remember when you put it in containers to allow room for expansion and don’t fill them right to the top). As well as being served with pasta, it could also be used as a pizza topping or as a sauce for a meat casserole.

Ingredients:

• 2.5 pounds of fresh tomatoes

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

• 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

• 12 leaves of fresh basil

• 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

• salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

• First skin the tomatoes. To do this, pour boiling water over them and leave them for exactly 1 minute or, if the tomatoes are small, 15-30 seconds, before draining and slipping off their skins (protect your hands with a cloth if they are too hot). Now reserve 3 of the tomatoes for later and roughly chop the rest.

• Next heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then add the onion and garlic and let them gently cook for 5-6 minutes, until they are softened and pale gold in colour.

• Now add the chopped tomatoes with about a third of the basil, torn into pieces. Add some salt and freshly milled black pepper, then all you do is let the tomatoes simmer on a very low heat, without a lid, for approximately 1½ hours or until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are reduced to a thick, jam-like consistency, stirring now and then.

• Roughly chop the reserved fresh tomatoes and stir them in, along with the rest of the torn basil leaves, and serve on pasta with a hint of parmesan – not too much, though, because it will detract from the wonderful tomato flavour. When serving this sauce, it is a good idea to give the pasta 1 minute less cooking time than you usually would, then return it to the saucepan after draining and give 1 more minute while you mix in the sauce.

4. Tomato Salsa

Imagine how tasty this would be served with barbecue dishes! It can be spiced up according to your taste, and requires nothing more than some chopping to prepare. How easy is that!

Ingredients:

• 6 to 8 medium plum tomatoes, diced, about 2 cups diced

• 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

• 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

• 1 small clove garlic, minced

• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

• 1 scant teaspoon granulated sugar

Directions:

• Combine all ingredients, blending well. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

5. Warm Tomato Tart with Rocket Salad

Rocket and tomato is a lovely combination. With some ready-made pastry, you can soon make this easy tart, which takes just minutes to bake. Tasty, simple and quick – this tart will surely do justice to your tasty tomatoes.

Ingredients:

• 500 g block shop-bought puff pastry

• flour, for dusting

• 8 ripe tomatoes

• 1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

• 1 large handful of rocket

• 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

• 4 tsp balsamic vinegar

• goats' cheese, to taste

Directions:

• Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

• To make the pastry discs for the tarts, cut the block of puff pastry into quarters. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece to a circle 3mm thick and 14cm in diameter.

• Prick the discs all over with a fork. Put the discs on a plate and leave to stand in the fridge for 20 minutes.

• Find two baking trays of even size and cut two sheets of parchment paper the same size as the trays. Lay a sheet of paper on one tray and arrange the four discs on the paper, taking care to spread them out. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top of the discs and then place the second tray on top of the paper. Place a weight on the top tray to hold it down, such as a brick covered in tin foil.

• Bake the discs for about 8 minutes and then check them. They should be golden-brown and flat. While the pastry is in the oven, prepare the tomatoes: slice the tomatoes crosswise with a sharp knife into slices about 3mm thick.

• When the discs are golden-brown, remove from the oven. Lay them out and sprinkle with the parmesan. Lay slices of tomato on top of the cheese. Set aside for up to 30 minutes.

• Before serving, put the tarts back in the oven at the same temperature to bake for a further 6-8 minutes.

• In a mixing bowl, drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the rocket leaves and toss to cover. Remove the tarts from the oven, top with the dressed rocket leaves and crumble the goat’s cheese on top. Serve.

6. Domatokeftedes

This is a really different way of using your home-grown tomatoes. Domatokeftedes is a Greek recipe that mixes them with flour and other ingredients to make fried balls. They need to be served immediately, but won’t take long to cook.

Ingredients:

• 1 lb Fresh Tomatoes

• 2 medium Onions, finely chopped

• ½ teasp Paprika

• Salt and Black Pepper

• 1 oz freshly chopped Mint

• 2 tbsp freshly chopped Parsley

• 1 tbsp Olive Oil

• 5 oz Self-Raising Flour

• Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions:

• Place the tomatoes whole into a large mixing bowl and squash them with the hands until they turn to a pulp.

• Add the remaining ingredients, apart from the flour and mix well.

• Add the flour a little at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of a thick but moist paste. At this point you can refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to cook them.

• Heat about 1-inch of oil in a large frying pan until very hot but not smoking, then drop tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil and fry, turning once, until lightly golden brown on all sides. Serve

7. Tomato Chutney

What better way to use up a glut of tomatoes than by making enough chutney to see you through the winter? The recipe keeps for up to 6 months, so you could give some away and still have plenty for yourself.

Ingredients:

• 1kg ripe tomatoes, chopped

• 450g onions, chopped

• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 2 eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

• 2 tsp mustard seeds

• 2 cloves

• 2.5cm piece fresh ginger, grated

• 300g sultanas

• 200g light muscovado sugar

• 600ml malt vinegar

Directions:

• Put all the ingredients, apart from the vinegar, in a preserving pan or large, deep saucepan. Add half the vinegar and season.

• Place the pan over a medium heat. Slowly bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

• Stir the vinegar into the chutney. Cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring often, or until thickened. If it's still runny, simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

• Divide the hot chutney between sterilised jars and set aside to cool.

• Place a disc of waxed paper directly onto the chutney and seal with airtight lids or Cellophane and elastic bands. Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, for at least 1 month before eating. It will keep for up to 6 months. Chill after opening and use within 1-2 months.

8. Lamb and Tomato Tagine

This recipe for home-grown tomatoes takes a fair bit of preparation and cooking, so it’s one for planning ahead. Although I’m not a meat-eater, it looks like a very tasty way of serving lamb if you like it. To adapt for vegetarians, I would use some chunky vegetarian sausages (with a lot less cooking time).

Ingredients:

• 1 tsp ground ginger

• 1 tsp ground black pepper

• 1 tsp ground cinnamon

• 1kg 250 g lamb shoulder, knuckle removed

• 1 bulbs garlic, peeled

• 3 tbsp olive oil

• 450 g onions, grated

• 175 g dried apricots, soaked in water to cover

• 75 g blanched flaked almonds

• 50 g sultanas or raisins

• 1 tbsp clear honey

• 500 ml tomato juice

• 700 g tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

• 500 ml lamb stock

Directions:

• Combine the ginger, pepper and cinnamon and rub all over the lamb. Leave in the fridge to marinate overnight.

• Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 2.

• Shred three of the garlic cloves. Using the tip of a sharp knife, make small indentations all over the lamb and push in slivers of garlic. Finely chop the remaining garlic.

• Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole pan set over a high heat. Quickly brown the lamb all over - it should take about 10 minutes.

• Add the remaining garlic and onion to the same pan; turn down the heat and soften the onions, without letting them brown.

• Add the apricots along with their soaking water.

• Stir in the almonds, raisins, sultanas, honey, tomato juice, tomatoes and lamb stock. Bring to the boil, place in the oven and cook for 3 hours.

I’d love to grow some tomatoes, although I don’t have a garden. If you've got more recipes for home-grown tomatoes, please share! For gardening readers, how are your home-grown tomatoes and other crops coming along, and what do you plan to do with them?

Sources: BBC.co.uk, cookuk, deliaonline, About.com, UKTV, Recipes4Us, Channel4, and UKTV.

Top Photo Credit: weheartit.com