red and green tomato pizza sauce

IMG_5326I’ve been eating homemade pizza, and my waistline has everything to show for it.  lt’s made all the better by peppers and basil from the garden and homemade pizza sauce.  If you’ve made and frozen my tomato paste already, it’s easy to pizzasaucify it when you defrost it by adding some fresh oregano, black pepper, and olive oil.  I usually use two ice-cube-tray cubes per pizza.

But I discovered another way as I was experimenting with roasted green tomatoes: red and green tomato sauce.  The green tomatoes are fantastic!  They give the sauce a slight green-peppery edge, and roasting onions and garlic along with the tomatoes adds great depth of flavor.  Just add a little spice mix and you’re good to go.

Need more green tomato recipes?  Click the link or, if you would, check out my very first column in Eugene Magazine, in which I discuss the pleasures of green tomato molé.  It’s on the shelves now, Fall 2013. Planning to try some fermentation experiments next.

Red and Green Tomato Pizza Sauce

  • 2 roasting pans full of paste tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 roasting pan full of green tomatoes, cut in large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large white onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Seasoning to taste with celery salt, black pepper, fennel seed, oregano, smoked paprika, and/or Penzey’s or another company’s pizza seasoning blend.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Prep tomatoes, onions, garlic, and carrot, then place in three roasting pans.  Exact amounts can vary, but try to make one relatively even layer in each pan.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil and celery salt (or regular salt) and toss. Roast vegetables slowly overnight until shrunken but still soft, 6-8 hours.

Grind roasted vegetables in a food mill, taking care to squeeze the onions and remove fibers when the mill is getting too clogged.  If the purée that results is still too wet to be a proper paste, cook down in a saucepan at very low heat to remove more water.  Add seasonings and freeze sauce in an ice cube tray.  For a standard pizza using store-bought pizza dough, defrost 2 cubes, about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce.

thai hot and sour green tomato stirfry

One more green tomato dish, this one a delicious and gorgeous Thai hot and sour stirfry that goes particularly well with fish, shrimp, or pork.  The marinade is delicious on its own, but when you add chopped green tomatoes, it’s really quite something.  Some folks have an issue with eating partially cooked green tomatoes because they can be a bit slimy, but I find chopping them into smaller pieces and using a strong sauce, plus the contrasting textures of soft cherry tomatoes and fleshy fish, make that issue moot.

Whew!  My green tomatoes are done for the year, but here are all my ideas for green tomatoes. Try:

Thai Hot & Sour Green Tomato Stirfry

Serves 4 with another dish.  Great with grilled salmon — pour the sauce on top of cooked salmon and arrange tomatoes around fish for a beautiful presentation.

  • 1 lb. fillet of fresh salmon to grill (fatty Chinook is best; substitute shrimp or pork)
  • 1 lb. or as many green tomatoes as you like, cut into bite-sized chunks (err on the small side)
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes for color and sweetness, halved
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced pole-to-pole thinly
  • A couple of red Italian frying peppers (the long skinny sweet peppers), sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • white pepper to taste

Prepare your ingredients before you start grilling the salmon (or shrimp or pork).  Chop the green tomatoes in bite-sized pieces and halve the cherry tomatoes; mince the garlic; slice the onion and peppers.  Mix together fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl, and use a bit to marinate your salmon.

Grill salmon.  As it is cooking:

Heat wok until very hot on high heat.  Add oil and wait a minute to pre-heat, then sear green tomatoes and onion.  Add garlic and peppers after onions and tomatoes brown a bit, cook a moment longer, then remove from heat.  Add fish sauce mixture and white pepper to taste.  Let sit and marinate while the fish finishes grilling.

Plate the grilled fish, and carefully pour sauce over fish.  Arrange tomatoes around fish and serve with jasmine rice and another dish for a complete meal.

you say green tomato again: green tomato pork ragu with pine nuts and raisins

Whew!  My green tomatoes are done for the year, but here are all my ideas for green tomatoes. Try:

I was inspired by a comment on David Lebovitz’s post about his Indian-influenced spiced green tomato chutney.  The chutney looks delicious in its own right, but the real star was someone named Tia, who shared ideas from Rome for green tomatoes:

Late in the fall, green tomatoes take over the Roman markets. They are good as a salad on their own — especially the ones with a rosey hue — they add body to chicken soup, and they also make a nice, somewhat tangy ragu for pasta: Lightly crisp a small amount of pancetta in olive oil, add a smashed clove or two of garlic and some chopped shallot or onion along with a bay leaf and a bit of fennel seed. If you want a richer sauce, crumble in some mild pork sausage. Cook the sausage until it is no longer pink, but don’t let it brown. Add a lot of roughly chopped green tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook into a sauce over medium heat. Toss with penne, ziti, orecchiette, or other shaped pasta. Finish with parsely, lemon zest, and black pepper. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and flock with grated pecorino cheese.

Is there any way to improve on this?  Why yes, there is.  It’s a good idea to roast your remaining green tomatoes: slice in half or in chunks, toss in olive oil and salt, and roast on 225 for a few hours before bagging them up and freezing.  They can be used for enchilada verde sauce or this delicious ragu in the middle of winter.  I like the balance of sweet, savory, and tanginess in my adaptation, too, which used up the last of the rosé.  It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it was absolutely delicious.

Roasted Green Tomato Ragu with Pork Sausage, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

Serves 4.

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 lbs. green tomatoes (roughly 3 cups cooked down)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup very dry, pale rosé or pinot gris
  • 1 lb. pork sausage meat (sweet Italian with fennel or pork with sage is perfect)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds, if pine nuts aren’t in your budget
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, for topping pasta

Mince onion and garlic.  Chop tomatoes.  Plump raisins in the rosé.  Toast pine nuts until just barely colored, and set aside.

Cook onion in some olive oil over medium heat until golden (do not brown).  Add the garlic and sausage meat, continuing to cook over medium heat until cooked through, breaking up large chunks of sausage. Add chopped green tomatoes, either precooked/frozen earlier or raw.  Add wine and raisins.  Let simmer with sausage, pressing against tomatoes with wooden spoon to break into sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed.

As the sauce is simmering, prepare your pasta.  This ragu does best with penne or a similarly large, ridged rolled pasta.  Or a lovely macaroni — kind of like a gardener’s Hamburger Helper, if you think about it.  The sauce is done when the pasta is done.  Add more wine or water if it seems to be too thick.

Integrate the sauce and cooked pasta, leaving just a bit of starchy water in the bottom of the pasta pot, and adding enough sauce to coat well.  Fold in pine nuts just before serving, and top each bowl of pasta with lots of grated parmesan.

you say green tomato: fermented chow chow

I’ve posted a bunch of green tomato recipes for canning in the past, but what if you can’t can?  You’ve come to the right place, you sexy tomato.  I’m going to post several of my favorite green tomato recipes just for you!  The first is a fermented relish called chow chow traditionally made to use up the leftovers of the garden harvest, a beautiful reminder of the passing of summer.

Fermented Chow Chow

This is a delicious fermented version of the southern condiment chow chow, usually sweetened and vinegared, then canned.  I like this fermented version, where the chopped vegetables are set out on a counter for a few days to sour.  It has a complementary combination of flavors that you can make your own by varying the amount of onion, the heat, and the sweet.  Don’t have time to ferment?  It’s delicious fresh, too.  Just substitute a whole grain mustard for the mustard seeds, eliminate the whey/water, and reduce the salt to a tablespoon or less.

Makes about quart and a half.

  • 2 lbs. green tomatoes
  • chunk of very fresh green cabbage
  • 1/2 lb. of a mix of all or some of the following: green peppers, yellow peppers, jalapenos (if you like heat), carrots or red pepper, cauliflower.
  • A few tablespoonsful of sweet white onion (e.g. Walla Walla)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whey from plain yogurt (the liquid on top) or juice from fresh sauerkraut or other fermented pickles to help along ferment
  • 2 tablespoons water

Chop up all of your green tomatoes into a fine dice.  This is a relish that’s all about texture, so I recommend some deft knife work instead of relying on the food processor.  But heck, if you are busy, do what you can.

Shred the cabbage finely, then chop into 1-inch pieces.  Dice your peppers and/or jalapenos, cauliflower, carrot, etc.  You’ll want to use a ratio of 1/3 green tomatoes, 1/3 green cabbage, and 1/3 other vegetables (plus a few tablespoonsful of minced onion).  Mix all into large bowl with green tomatoes and weigh.

Assess the situation.  Add more cabbage or green tomatoes to add weight, if necessary.  You’ll want 2.5 lbs. per 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt for a good ferment.

Add minced onion, spices, salt, and sugar.  Taste.  It should be a bit too salty, but make sure the onion, jalapeno heat, and sweetness are to your liking.  Add more if necessary.

Using your clean hands, crunch up the vegetables a bit so they start to release a liquid.  Add whey and water.

Pack firmly into two quart jars, dividing evenly.  Press down so the liquid covers the top as much as possible.  Cover jars with cheesecloth and set aside for 1-3 days on the counter, mixing and tasting daily.  When it is sour enough for your liking, refrigerate and eat with anything that needs a relish, like sausages, rice and beans, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna fish, etc.

Whew!  My green tomatoes are done for the year, but here are all my ideas for green tomatoes. Try:

a year in pickles: pickle recipe index

If there’s any specialty of this blog, it’s not gardening or sustainability or Northwest politics or seasonal cooking or local cheerleading or events or complaining a lot.  It’s pickles.  We’re not quite at that magic time of the year in Oregon yet, but I see from the hits on my blog that other places in the country have hit pickling time with a vengeance.

Suffice it to say, I always have pickles on hand, and I spend the whole year pickling.

Throughout summer and late into the fall, I put up crocks and crocks of red and white sauerkraut.  Some of the sauerkraut I can and give as gifts, and other jars I leave fresh in the refrigerator, where they last for months.

Also for winter eating, I make crocks and jars of fermented and vinegar dill pickles with giant bags of perfectly sized cucumbers I buy at a local farm and my own horseradish or grape leaves, plus full heads of garlic. I make dill relish every other year.  The fermented dill pickles have delicious juice that I use all year ’round in potato salads, as a marinade for salmon, and to deglaze pan-roasted fish or shrimp.

In autumn, I restock my tomatoes, salsa, and ketchup supplies. As it gets colder, I turn the rest of the green tomatoes into pickles or salsa.  I used to use all my sweet and hot peppers to make the pepper-eggplant spread ajvar (for freezing) but my new tradition is to put up a few half-gallon jars of hot peppers to ferment and make hot sauce after many months of fermentation.

In winter, when I see the citrus fruits at their best, I make a couple of jars of salt-preserved lemons and lemon zest vinegar (to use in a pinch when I’m out of fresh lemons), and, occasionally, marmalade.  I turn a 5-lb. bag of local dried Fellenberg or Brooks prunes into pickled prunes, to eat with winter roasts. I stew some of the sauerkraut in Pinot Gris (and save the Riesling for drinking — life’s too short to waste good Riesling) and eat it with kielbasa and other smoked meats.  If I remember, I corn a brisket for St. Patty’s day in March.  I make mustard and horseradish relish from my horseradish plant’s roots.

As soon as the spring produce starts coming in, I make refrigerator pickles: salted savoy cabbage, cucumber quick pickles, chard stem pickles.  Flavored vinegar-making also begins in spring with the little purple pompom chive blossoms and tarragon, then ends with wild blackberries, Concord grapes, and cranberries in the fall.  Starting in May, I put up the requisite asparagus pickles and dilly beans; I love giving the jars of slender, perfectly straight crisp vegetable crunchies as hostess gifts for parties throughout the year.  Cauliflower pickles are a standby, as well — the purple cauliflower makes a vibrant magenta pickle.  Each time I make a vinegar brine for canning pickles, I do a double batch, then use the excess brine for refrigerator pickles made of whatever is on hand: baby turnips, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts…

It’s hard to believe, but we eat them all.

Here are my pickle recipes, indexed, if you’d like to try some or all of these ideas!  All of the canned pickles are produced using tested, safe recipes that are approved by the Master Food Preserver program, with which I’m a certified volunteer.

it’s not easy being green tomatoes

Well, we need to face facts.  We may get a few more ripe ones during this warm weekend, but most of us in the Willamette Valley will be stuck with bushels of unripe tomatoes this year.

Suzi Busler, the fearless leader of our Master Food Preserver program in Lane & Douglas Counties, recently held a green tomato class in Roseburg.  These are her notes on recipes for cooking and preserving the little monsters:

Green Tomato Chutney – outstanding….best chutney I’ve tasted. Recipe came out of Ball Complete book [ed: see below];

Green Tomato Salsa – used the tomatillo recipe – was excellent [ed: see below];

Dilled Green Tomatoes – a pickle recipe in Ball Complete book [ed: see below; also in Ball Blue Book];

Green Tomato Pie Filling – good [ed: this and more tested recipes are in the Lane County Extension “Green Tomato” publication LC 369];

Fried Green Tomatoes – Slices of green tomato, dip in egg, dredge in flour, dredge in Italian Seasoned Bread crumbs, fry in oil, sprinkle salt, pepper, a little cayenne pepper and sour cream…yum;

Oven Roasted Green Tomatoes – slices of tomatoes, cookie sheet, brush with olive oil, salt/pepper and crushed garlic. Cook in slow, warm oven (200°F) for 4-6 hours till leathery.

Green Tomato Chutney

Yield: 7 pints

Adapted from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

16 cups sliced, cored, peeled green tomatoes
½ cups canning salt
Cold water
3 tablespoons pickling spice
4 cups white vinegar
16 cups chopped, cored, peeled apples (tart, firm)
3 medium yellow or white onions, chopped
3 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
6 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, layer tomatoes and pickling salt. Add cold water to cover.  Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Transfer tomatoes to a colander placed over a sink.  Rinse well with cold water and drain thoroughly.

Peel, core, and chop apples.  Add to vinegar to prevent browning.

Tie pickling spice in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. Set aside.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar and apples, drained tomatoes, onions, and green peppers.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in brown sugar and return to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently for 30 minutes.

Add reserved spice bag and chili powder and stir well.  Boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 30 minutes.  Discard spice bag.

Sterilize jars, and prepare rings and lids according to safe practices (see canning book if you do not know how to do this).

Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving ½ inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot chutney.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Cover the canner, bring to boil, and process jars for 15 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove the jars, cool, label and store in cool dark place.

For best quality, consume within one year.

Green Tomato Salsa

Yield: 5 pints.

Ed note: because you can swap out tomatillos for regular tomatoes and green tomatoes for tomatillos in salsa recipes, according to Extension, I assume this means green tomatoes can be swapped out for regular tomatoes.  Go, 9th grade math knowledge!   Adapted from tomatillo salsa recipe in Extension’s “Tomatillos” publication SP 50-768.

5  cups chopped green tomatoes
2  cups seeded, chopped jalapenos
4  cups chopped white onions
1  cup bottled lemon juice
6  cloves garlic, finely chopped
1  tablespoon canning salt
1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and stir frequently over high heat until
mixture begins to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Prepare jars and lids.

Ladle hot salsa into hot pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace.  Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

Dilled Green Tomatoes

Ed note: I make these green tomato sliced pickles each year.  I find these work better than fermenting whole tomatoes, no matter how small they are, since I have not had great luck with flavor and texture (too hard and crunchy).  Slicing tomatoes will slightly decrease the yield.  Adapted from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Yield: 5 to 6 pints.

3 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
¼ cups canning salt
5 lbs. small, firm, green tomatoes, sliced, halved or quartered, or green cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
6 teaspoons pickling spice (separated, one t. per jar)
6 teaspoons brown mustard seed (separated, one t. per jar)
6 heads fresh dill

Prepare canner, jars, lids.  Keep jars hot.  Yield may be smaller than 6 pints, but prepare 6 just to be sure.

Slice or quarter your tomatoes.  You may half smaller tomatoes.  Keep cherry tomatoes whole.  Try to separate tomato pieces by size, i.e., keep cherries together and slices together, for the best quality produce.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water and pickling salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve salt. Remove from heat.

Add 1 clove garlic, 1 head dill, 1 teaspoon each of pickling spice and mustard seed to each hot jar.  Pack raw tomatoes into hot jars to within a generous ½ inch of top of jar.

Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover tomatoes, leaving ½ inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to boil and process for 15 minutes.

Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, label and store cool, dry dark place.  For best quality, consume within one year.

Whew!  My green tomatoes are done for the year, but here are all my ideas for green tomatoes. Try: