Friday, July 24, 2009

Tomato Red

I have lots of tomato plants in various stages of setting and giving fruit. Right now, four varieties are giving me bucketloads.

1) Japanese Black Trifele


This guy sets fruit as if his life is on the line. The fruit hangs in clumps, larger to smaller, each pear-shaped and beautiful. The fruit have the characteristic rich-salty-smoky-sweet flavor of the best black tomatoes, and they have few flaws other than green shoulders. Great slicers, I think they'll can pretty well too.

2) Teton de Venus


I couldn't pass up a tomato named Venus Titty. C'mon. Could you? But, even more than it's evocative name, this plant spits out tons of very flavorful, medium sized tomatoes that are short on seeds and heavy on beauty. It's an oxheart variety, and I do love my oxhearts because they're so multipurpose. Great for eating fresh. Great for sauces and canning.

3) Eva's Purple Ball


Once again, great name, but in this case, the only thing true about the name is the ball part. They're not purple, but instead a clear pinkish, almost translucent color. They taste great, wonderful slicers, but I don't think the plant can put up with the heat my climate demands. They set fruit early and stopped setting any fruit the second the June gloom went away. I probably won't grow these again.

4) Opalka


This big bugger is just beginning to ripen up now, and provides huge, pound-plus fruit that are almost seed-free and great for canning. They're not dry and mushy, like other paste tomato types, but instead have a nice firm texture and a great acid-sweet flavor balance. The plant seems to deal well with the heat, set fruit well into July, and still appears healthy. I can't wait to get canning these guys.

Yesterday morning, I picked about 20 pounds of tomatoes. Many of them I have in a low oven now, turning into the luscious homemade tomato paste that I can't get enough of during the winter. Many of them I've given away. But lots ended up in yesterday's soup. SWW and I spent the day yesterday telling stories and sipping gazpacho and pink sangria. A better day to wile away a sweaty summer afternoon I couldn't imagine.

Gazpacho Sevillano
Adapted ever-so-slightly from The New Spanish Table (an insanely inspiring cookbook) by Anya von Bremzen.

You will need:
2 cups cubed day old bread
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds
coarse sea salt
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, the seeds haphazardly scooped out
2 small cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 mildly-warm red pepper, like an Alma or something similar, seeded and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons chopped red onion
1/2 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
water as needed

To make the soup:
Place the bread in a bowl, drizzle with a little cold water, and toss the bread around to soak up the water for a few minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out the excess water.

In a mortar and pestle, pound together the cumin seeds, garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mash the ingredients into a paste.

Toss the bread, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onion, and garlic paste together in a large bowl and let stand for 15 minutes to let the flavors begin to meld. A small batch at a time, puree the mixture in a food processor until very smooth. Collect the small batches in a large bowl, and whisk in the oil and the vinegar until thoroughly incorporated. Taste. You'll probably need salt and you may—depending on how dense your tomatoes are— need to add a splash of water to thin the soup. You may even need a shot more vinegar.


Serve the soup in chilled bowls to four hungry but hot people.

12 comments:

June said...

My tomatoes cannot come on FAST enough now that I've seen yours. California is much friendlier to the heat lovers than Maine, and ours are way way way behind.

I'm trying my paste in the oven this year, as opposed to Marcella Hazan's stovetop version that I adore. Or maybe I'll make both. We have a backyard pizza oven under way that will demand much sauce.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bec said...

I've been looking for a gazpacho recipe lately - this sounds great.

Meghan at Making Love In the Kitchen said...

Those are beautiful!

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

We've been getting a few tomatoes in our Chicago yard, nothing as intriguingly named as the Teton de Venus. The soup sounds delicious, Christina. I'm always up for interesting takes on gazpacho!

ann said...

Sigh, tomatoes... Mine have something, I'm not sure what, but its fungal and brought on by all the bloody rain we've been getting. Last week was *only* an inch and a half. Temperatures are promising to hover in the mid-80s during the days and mid-60s at night this week with only a "chance" of rain each day, so I have hopes that they'll be able to pull through whatever is on the leaves and begin ripening because there's so many pounds of fruit on the vine. It would be so depressing to expend all that energy and emotion and end up with nothing.
I'm jealous about the Opalka, I wanted to grow those, but my nursery was out of them. I do have Eva Purple Balls though. Looking forward to them even more now!

Christina said...

June: I don't know Hazan's version of tomato paste. Have you posted it? I'll have to check it out.

Bec: I hope you like it! I sure do. My husband, however, is not a gazpacho lover and he wasn't impressed. My friend Sarah and I though could drink it by the gallons.

Meghan: Thanks!

Ann: I've read that early blight has hit the northeast hard because of all the rain. I'm so sorry your tomatoes are sick. I lost my Black Krim early this year to disease, and I'm about to pull out Eva's Purple Ball because it isn't happy, but the rest of my tomato flock is going strong. Wootwoot! I'll post more about some other varieties soon.

kale for sale said...

Your tomatoes are pure poetry and I thought it would stop there but the tomato paste! I was just wondering the other day how to make it and here is the answer. My head is already spinning on how I could make a bigger batch all at once. Thank you.

Christina said...

Terry B.: As far as I know, this is a pretty traditional take on gazpacho--most the Spaniards I know blend it rather than chop it, and the aged sherry vinegar is apparently mandatory. All I really know about gazpacho is that this recipe tastes really great.

KFS: I make two batches at once sometimes, just two large pans in the oven, so I can end up with two small jars of paste rather than one. Remember, you're concentrating a lot into a little, so don't be disapppointed by the fact that so many tomatoes become a small jar of paste. It will taste amazing. I'm glad you're excited about experimenting with it.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

My tomatoes are growing up too! My black brandywine's aren't black...but they do have very dark areas. :) I have some huge pink watermelons that I could use for thick tomato steak sandwiches.

Yours are just lovely!

Speaking of tittys, I had a mammogram today. Just smashing!

Rowena... said...

Uhm...is it just me, or is there something protruding from one of those trifeles? I looked at the enlarged image, then clicked back and put a magnifying glass to the small image, and all I can say is.... is it just me being a little too observant? We have Poppa di Venere peaches (breast of Venus), so I could totally go for the tomatoes.

I'm going to record this gardening year as the year to get all emotional over. Too much rain, not enough sun/warmth, and HAIL were the causes of a very modest crop. I harvested one Black Krim (quite 11 ounces!) that was the most delicious thing, even if it was pockmarked from the hail. There's a few more but not the bounty that I had hoped for. I'm satisfied that we got anything, but boy was I ever wrong to think that every year would be tomato year. (Naive greenie that I am!)

The Allotment Blogger said...

Fantastic harvest! Our tomatoes in the UK are a little behind yours but we're getting there. Our unnamed black tomatoes (from seed from an allotment neighbour) have just ripened and they are utterly delicious - I'm sure they'd cook wonderfully but we're eating them before they can get in sight of a pot or pan.

Christina said...

Mel: I don't think any of the black tomatoes are really black--they're all sort of a rustish color that is just darker than red. Your tomatoes sound great too--ah, tomato sandwiches! Yum. I hope the mammogram went swimmingly!

Rowena: I kept putting that tomato in my husband's face, telling him that it was excited to see him. But, you're the first person to comment on its excitement here. I was expecting more lascivious readers! So sorry to hear about your tomatoes. While the year before last was great for me, last year wasn't. This year is a great tomato year here, but my friends on the other coast are so frustrated with all the rain. One never knows how the tomatoes will fare . . ..

The Allotment Blogger: I hear you. Tomatoes only hit the stove or the cans once I've had my fill of them raw. And between my husband and me, we can eat A LOT of tomatoes.