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Have you ever played the game where you have to pick your favourite food to take with you to a desert island?

Okay fine, maybe you didn’t have to play these games because you weren’t born in the dark ages before en-route entertainment systems, like I was. Even though they were ubiquitous, we didn’t get a colour TV in our house until I was 17 because my parents were anti-TV before being anti-TV was a hipster parenting trend. No way would we have been allowed to “rot our brains” in the car, too!

Anyhoo, on road trips my sister and I grew up forced to count cows, play memory games like, “I took a trip…”, sing campfire songs, and when desperation really took hold, actually talk to our parents in the front seat.

It was Ye Olden Days.

I can’t remember if we ever played The Desert Island game in the car, but I had my answer ready, just in case. Were I to be marooned on a desert island and could only take one food, it would definitely be: TOMATOES.

Or CHOCOLATE, of course.

Or TOMATOES.

I can’t make major decisions, but if I were allowed to take both, it would make a balanced diet, right?

It was like a desert island dream (the “desert island” being Practical Man’s second cancer diagnosis and more-important-than-average covid self-isolation).

Unfortunately, the bonanza (that’s a Ye Olden Time word, by the way) was itty bitty cherry tomatoes and completely green. Even if we could have ripened them on a thousand window sills that we don’t possess, Practical Man told me that unless they have a tiny bit of colour on them, they won’t ripen from completely green.

two giant bowls full of green cherry tomatoes

He’s from even older Ye Olden Days than I am. He actually SAW a TV show called Bonanza when it was airing. He knows stuff.

Last year, we made an icky green tomato salsa that had waaaaaay too much cumin (“too much cumin” should be the slogan for 2020) and that turned us off anything that had “salsa” in the recipe title, for this year’s rescue crop. Fried green tomatoes is what everyone thinks of as soon as they hear “green tomatoes”, but we would have had enough for the whole county (and since we are hunkered in our aforementioned cancer/covid cocoon, hosting a Fried Green Tomato Open House isn’t really an option).

So, Practical Man put the thousands of small, green tomatoes in a big box and proceeded to invoke some kind of plant-savant-wizardy where he turned them a bit red using a combination of bananas and newspaper.

Betcha never saw that wizard trick in a Disney movie, Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, did you?

Every couple of days, a few handfuls get pulled out of the magic box to ripen the rest of the way on the windowsills we DO possess. Abracadabra, we have ripe tomatoes. Be careful what you wish for.

Even with my eat-my-weight-in-tomatoes practices and desert island affection for what Italians called Love Apples, we needed to do something with the abundance.

“No tomato left behind” is our motto!

Enter, Roasted Tomato Sauce (or if you’d prefer to sound more foodie: Roasted Tomato Confit).

First off, you should know that anything with “confit” in the title makes you sound a bit pretentious, unless “confit” is part of your lexicon of origin or you are trying to charge money for it.

On the other hand, “roasted” in the title is an automatic win. It takes bitter things and makes them sweet. It takes veggie things and makes them candy. And, it’s so easy, any fool can do it (i.e.: me). Here’s how:

  • cookie sheets/roasting pans
  • parchment paper to put on said pans
  • cut tomatoes in half in a bowl
  • add 6 cloves garlic for every 1kg of tomatoes (or 3 mutant cloves that PM grew in our garden)
  • add any desired spices (we advise against cumin–yuck!). We used oregano this time, but you could use basil or thyme or a combination.
  • salt, pepper, olive oil to coat
cooke sheet full of roasted red cherry tomatoes

Put in a 425F degree oven for around 40-45 minutes until bubbling and starting to caramelize.

Using an immersion blender, we carefully (HOT!) pulsed all the juices and yummy roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic into a goo that REALLY needs to come with me to my desert island.

mason jar with burnt orange goo inside (roasted tomato sauce)

We had it on pizza tonight. Homemade pizza dough (made with PM’s 8-9 year-old sourdough starter), homemade roasted tomato goo made with home-grown PM tomatoes and home-grown PM garlic, homemade sausage made with PM-made sausage.

Uh…YUM. Practical Man didn’t charge me money, but he should definitely get to use the word “confit”.

We froze the rest for pasta, soups, to smear on chicken or in my case, to just sit and lick off a spoon for self-soothing purposes, in case there’s another US election anytime soon.

We finished with two-bite brownies made with my world-famous recipe.

Three two-bite brownies on a colourful (red/blue/yellow) plate

On the weighty matter of chocolate versus tomatoes during a pandemic, an election with world-wide implications, and cancer in the house:

This desert island is allowed to break all the rules.

Christine Fader is the author of two published books and loves tomatoes and chocolate (not together though, ewwwwww). Find her at christinefader.com