Sunshine and tomatoes go together. These tomato recipes will recreate those summer moments all through the year as they are easy to freeze, and user-friendly to the max. You can use these tomato recipes for your slow cooked Italian tomato ultimate sauce or a quick fix pasta one, or add the heavenly oven-roasted tomatoes to a mid winter stew – or why not to a fish or chicken dish come autumn. These three recipes for tomatoes come with a ‘how to grow and freeze’ guide based on many years of garden fun in my Italian vegetable garden.
The Ultimate Tomato Recipes: Growing Tomatoes
There is nothing more exciting than picking your own tomatoes. You will have spent months watching these ‘babies’ grow, and then the day finally comes. That very first tomato of the year is the sweetest, most welcome, and an utterly satisfying moment of success.
I plant my seedlings in end of March, beginning of April as I live in a Southern Mediterranean climate. These seedlings will have been chosen with care, intense discussion of which types of tomatoes to grow that year – and with utmost attention to get healthy specimens that can grow into spouting wonders. It is amazing how an investment of 0,30 cent can generate such a discussion, and time – and that the end result gives you food for weeks, and indeed freezer dishes to last until the next year.
I tend to plant four little seedlings each year. One of each type. Cherry tomatoes for salads, Marzano for sauce, Beef tomatoes for stews and oven roasted (whole) and round ones for larger vegetable dishes.
The process of growing tomatoes is a long one. You can find some great tips here from a fellow Italian blogger: How to grow tomatoes. You need a lot of tender loving care (TLC).
You become used to a daily check and picking the middle
leaves to ensure a healthy, rich growth. Giving the young plants stability with initial bamboo stems, and intricate larger sticks when they grow taller. The process of eliminating any bugs, or disease does create difficulties if you don’t want to use chemicals (which I don’t). My neighbours here in the Italian country side make their own rather bizarre blend of beer, cigar tobacco, coffee and rotten leaves. It works a treat and is most definitely organic.
The Ultimate Tomato Recipes: Mid-Winter Sunshine
Come end of June the festivities can begin. New tomato recipes are fun to come up with, but the ultimate ones are the best. Here you have a recipe for an Italian tomato sauce that is best when you leave it to stew for hours on end. There is also a quick fix version that you can make in 20 minutes – perfect for hungry kids (and adults). Both recipes work with pasta or as an addition to your chicken or fish. My heavenly oven-roasted tomato dish works as a side dish, and for all those dishes that cry out for a sweet / savoury tang. Just add a few of the oven roasted tomatoes, and you are home free. I did mention, didn’t I – that all the tomatoes recipes lend themselves perfectly to freezing. Pack them up in July and use them in December. What a sunshine moment you will have!
- 2 kilo Tomatoes
- 2 Onions (large)
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Celery stick
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1/2 Chilli (optional)
- 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 later Vegetable stock or 'just' water if you don't have organic vegetable cubes (others are too salty!)
- Basil (fresh - a big bunch or to taste)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Same Ingredients as above - see cooking method for difference.
- 2 Kilo Tomatoes (the longer marzano type are good here)
- 3 Onions (large)
- 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- 2 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat up olive oil and add garlic clove (and chilli if you opt for it) and let it 'melt' slowly in a a large iron pan.
- Chop the onion, carrots and celery sticks smallish and add to pan as soon as garlic has 'melted'.
- Chop your tomatoes into large chunks, and add when the onion mix has turned transparent.
- Let the tomatoes cook down, and let them stew for 1/2 hour.
- Add the vegetable stock, honey and balsamic vinegar.
- Let cook on low heat for 1 more hour without the lid.
- Try and see what the sauce tastes like, and add salt, pepper, and maybe more honey if needed.
- Let it cook for 1 more hour (at least).
- At the very end stir in basil to taste so they wilt in the sauce.
- The longer you cook this sauce the better but after 2 1/2 hour you are there (just).
- Chop up all your vegetables, including tomatoes into large bit size pieces.
- Heat up olive oil, garlic and chilli until garlic starts to turn transparent.
- Add the vegetables, vegetable stock, honey and balsamic vinegar and crank up the heat.
- When the tomato sauce is bubbling turn the heat down and taste with salt, pepper and basil.
- After 15 minutes turn off the heat.
- Now take out your hand mixer and turn the tomato sauce into a smooth red mix.
- Put on the heat again and let cook for five minutes. (which is also the perfect time to get your pasta cooked if you plan to serve as dinner 🙂 )
- Heat up your oven to 250 degrees celsius.
- Slice your tomatoes length wise once only (i.e. one tomato = 2 halves)
- Place the tomatoes 'sunny side up' on grease proof paper on an oven tray.
- Chop the onion in large rings and throw over the tomatoes.
- Spinkle the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey over the tomatoes.
- Place the tray in the oven and let it roast for 20 minutes (sometimes longer in some ovens) until they are lightly charred and glistening.
- Take out the tray and add the basil that gets to wilt over the hot tomatoes.
- These are perfect as a side dish, or can be added to any dish that craves savory sweetness. Also works in stews, or just on their own with perhaps some quinoa or couscous. Enjoy!
- These dishes are super easy to freeze. and all you need to do is let them go completely cold - package them up in freezer friendly containers, label and freeze. Then take them out as and when needed. Such a treat to have mid-winter - a sunshine moment!
- The recipes are quoted for 10 - but can be varied according to your needs. Enjoy!
Tomato Recipes: How To Freeze Tomatoes
Tomatoes can be frozen just as they are. Yes! I have over the years had such success with my tomato plants, that in pure desperation I simply washed them in a white vinegar bath – and placed in freezer bags. Low and behold. It works – especially with cherry tomatoes. They freeze into little bullets of pure goodness that I then use as and when needed.
For the recipes above, I recommend getting freezer containers in varying sizes that stack. I like to keep my freezer in an easy to find state so I can grab what I need without delay.
Let the sauces and oven-roasted tomatoes from the recipes above go completely cold. Spoon them into the containers. If you like you can weigh them using a kitchen scales (easier when using the tomatoes as ‘add to’ dishes) and then label.
Stack the containers into the freezer – and enjoy many months later. Easy, user-friendly and utterly tasty. Mother Nature at its best, aided by the invention of the freezer.
Recommended and Related:
- How To Grow Outstanding Tomatoes – italianbellavita.com
- Tomatoes – The Worlds Healthiest Foods – whfoods.com
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