Last updated: February 16. 2013 4:24PM - 166 Views

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Nothing says summer like the first bite of a garden tomato.

No sooner do you take that taste than all the backyard tomatoes turn red and beg to be picked. Or so it seems. Not to worry. We have plenty of ideas on how to use up those red beauties.

Freeze them: Varieties used for sauce, such as romas or plum tomatoes, are easy to freeze. Cut out the cores and bag and freeze. When you're ready to use them, drop them in warm water for a few minutes and the skin will slide right off.

Purée them: Boil them with a little water, put them through a food mill and place in 1-cup amounts in zip-close bags. Label and freeze.

Roast them: Core and halve the tomatoes, place in a single layer in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 325 degrees for 90 minutes to two hours, until they're very soft. Bag and freeze, or cover with their cooking oil and refrigerate for a week. You also can purée and freeze.

Dry them: Reader Elizabeth Burns suggests doing it outdoors.

"It's cheap and easy and delivers colorful, flavorful tomato morsels just right for snacks, salad or casserole garnish or extra zing in nearly any meal," she writes in an e-mail.

Burns says to line cookie sheets with plastic wrap. Slice tomatoes crosswise, about ¼-inch thick, and lay slices on the trays, with no overlapping.

Cover against bugs with a protective screen or cheesecloth and set out in full sun. After a hot day or two, they may be dry enough to turn.

"Depending on the weather, you can just leave them out 24 hours/day until they are dry (about 3-4days)," she writes.

Store dried tomato slices in zip-close bags in the refrigerator to enjoy during the winter.


Makes 12 cups


10 pounds very ripe plum tomatoes, cut in quarters

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt


In a large pot, heat the water over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Mix in the tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes or until they start to soften and break down. Reduce heat to low, add salt and keep cooking for about two hours or until the volume of liquid has reduced by one-third. Remove from heat and cool. Pass the mixture through a food mill to remove the solids. Place the purée in 1 cup amounts in freezer bags, press out the air and zip shut. Label and freeze. They'll keep for at least three months.

This recipe is from "The Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook," by Brian Yarvin (The Countryman Press, $19.95).


Serves 4 to 6


1 large onion

2 large bell peppers

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, including romas, halved

2 cups carrots or potatoes, diced

4 cups stock

2 tablespoons fresh basil

1 tablespoon dried parsley

Cracked black pepper to taste

1/4 cup half-and-half


Heat a large stockpot over high heat. Add the oil and sauté the bell peppers and onions for 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, paprika, salt and carrots and sauté for 15 minutes or until the carrots become tender. If mixture sticks, throw in a halved tomato. Decrease the heat to medium, stir in the tomatoes and cook until they dissolve. Stir in the stock, 2 tablespoons basil and the parsley. Simmer for 30 minutes. Purée the soup in a blender. Return the soup to a clean pot and reheat. Adjust seasoning. To serve, spoon the soup into a bowl and garnish with a bit of half-and-half.

Note: If you cut the tomatoes in half and let them dissolve into the onions, it's easy to fish out the tomato peels, which will curl and float to the top after the broth is added.

This recipe is based on one in "Organic Marin: Recipes From Land to Table," by Tim Porter and Farina Wong Kingsley (Andrew McMeel, $29.95).


Serves: 4


4 large ripe tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus oil for baking dish

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1/2 pound ground lamb or beef or pork

1/2 cup uncooked white rice

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup salt

1 cup chicken broth


Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Use a serrated grapefruit spoon to hollow out the bodies. Reserve bodies, tops and pulp.

Heat the oil, onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes or until the onion begins to turn golden on the edges. Add the lamb and 1 cup of the reserved tomato pulp and continue cooking for about 20 minutes or until meat is completely browned. Mix in rice, pine nuts, raisins, salt and broth.

Lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer covered for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325. Oil a baking dish. Fill the hollow tomatoes with the meat mixture and stand them on end in the baking dish. Place the reserved tops on the tomatoes. Brush tomatoes with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes or until completely cooked. Serve warm.

This recipe is from "The Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook," by Brian Yarvin (The Countryman Press, $19.95).

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