Monday, September 14, 2009

Savoring the harvest: Sungold tomato nuggets

by June

Usually this time of year I'm so overrun with Sungold tomatoes that I resort to throwing them into a zipper bag and throwing the zipper bag into the freezer. This deep into September, I've usually slow-baked tray upon tray of cherry tomato nuggets, and by this point, I'm just in a frenzy to get my bigger tomatoes sauced and frozen for the winter. I almost always have one pot of diced tomatoes being softened on the flame, and another pot of sauce that's been through the food mill and is now cooking down into a thick sweet paste that I freeze into cubes and use all winter. This year...well, you know what happened this year.

We certainly do not have any bags of Sungold in the deep freeze for tossing into soups and sauces. But we do have a little of our January mental-health remedy: Sungold tomato nuggets. They ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder, which in our case would be brought on not only by lack of sunshine but also by lack of sunshine-y tomato flavor-burst nuggets to sprinkle on our pasta, pizza, and even the occasional hot bubbling cheese spreads.

A few tiny jars represent our entire winter stock, but what a comfort it is to open the freezer door and see them preserved for when we most need them.

If you are in a part of the world where tomatoes are abundant and if you don't mind a little up-front labor, here's a recipe that will be a remedy for most all that ails you in the deep-darks.

Halve Sungold tomatoes (or another flavorful cherry tomato). Scoop out the seeds (and feed the seedy slurry to the chickens...)

Place the tomato halves cut side up on a baking tray.

For two quarter-sheet trays of tomatoes (or one regular cookie sheet), mix together a fluid paste of:

3/4 cup good olive oil
4 tablespoons of grated parmigiana cheese
2 (or more, to taste) cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
fresh thyme leaves stripped off the stems (or oregano if that's more to your liking)
sea salt
ground pepper

With a little spoon, dribble the paste into each of the tomato cups.

Bake in a 250 or 300 degree Fahrenheit oven. Use your judgment. You want it to be a slow heat that will slowly caramelize the tomatoes into something like a tomato raisin -- a tomato raisin, that is, with an additional little explosion of juicy, savory olive oil.

Freeze them in jars and keep them in an easily accessible bit of the freezer because you'll want to grab a few now and then to give a flavorful lilt to toast with ricotta cheese or a broiled slab of French feta or zucchini pizza or... The possibilities are truly endless.

Oh, I do miss the tomato sauce bubbling away, especially the aroma that drifts all the way up to the attic and out to the garden itself. But at least we have our little bit of captured tomato essence in six little jars on the freezer shelf.


Daphne said...

Those look so beautiful. I sauced all my extra sungolds this year. They make a weirdly sweet tomato sauce.

Camie | Red Gate Gardens said...

Oh. My. Stars.

June, how I wish the tomatoes would've worked out this year. I'm bookmarking this page to try next year. Thank you so much for sharing!

Bloom fine art fotografi said...

Thank you for sharing again June...this is quite the "gourmet" blog.You really know how to live the "good life".
We have a ton of tomatoes and this will be just perfect, super idea can't wait to try it.I didn't know you could freeze tomatoes,I guess you learn something new everyday.

June said...

Daphne: Ohhhh! I love Sungold tomato sauce. It IS weirdly sweet, so I really love to put it on pizza with salt-cured black olives. Ecstasy! Wish I'd had enough for sauce this year, but boohoo. (I know I have to stop blog-whining about it.)

Camie: Next year we are both going to have good tomato years. We are! Gardeners always believe in the next season, right?

Camilla: A TON of tomatoes!!! Good for you! Yes, these tomatoes freeze well. I also slice and dry them and then freeze them for soups and stews and to chunk up pizza or pasta sauce. I even freeze all my sauce instead of canning it. Can't wait to hear how you like these nuggets...

Sarah / Bee House Hives said...

This is a great idea. I am going to try it. Thank you for sharing and making me hungry too :)

Amanda said...

They sound absolutely delicious!!

Knittymama said...

Oooh, I've been doing this but dry, not w/ the oil and cheese. Your version sounds much better! I'll have to make some like this one of these days!

Tricia Orchard said...

Those look so yummy! What a great idea to freeze some and have close at hand. I am still waiting for all of my green tomatoes to start turning colour. It is my first summer planting a garden but it sure is taking awhile to see anything!

Enjoy your day,

Mary Delle said...

What a neat way to save your tomatoes for the winter. Very creative and looks so good.

underthebigbluesky said...

Ooh Ooh, golden tomatoes with bursts of olive oil. you are all right in my book.

sarah in the woods said...

Oh my goodness! My mouth is watering!

Lyanda said...

What a beautiful idea! I love roasted sungolds tossed on top of a galette or salad, but I'd never thought to freeze them in that state. Now I have something new to do today! Gorgeous blog.

Karen Sue said...

I like to eat the cherry tomatoe crop as the come on, and it is probably good for me so far that my crop was slow this year. I didn't really know what to do with the excess. I've been sharing them with a friend who can't have a garden spot. perhaps this is an answer. When you freeze them, do you do it on the sheet and then pop them in the jar? or will they not be wet enough to stick together when you put them in? I freeze my bluberries on a cookie sheet and then ziplock bag them and then they are loose to pour out how much I want.

June said...

Hello and thanks to Sarah and Amanda and Knittymama and Tricia (hope your garden hurries up) and Mary Delle (welcome!) and Big Blue Sky and Sarah and Lyanda (welcome and thanks for the nice compliment). It's lovely to have you all over for a chat. Only wish we could sample the tomato nuggets as we visit.

Karen Sue: It would probably work best to freeze them on the sheet, then pop them into the jar. Then they would not be fused together but loose. Still, I find that they pop apart quite easily (probably because of the olive oil), and I'm always just in a hurry. If you've got the time, I'd say do it the same way as the blueberries. It's so nice that you're sharing your extras. Fresh produce, what a gift!

Utah Grammie said...

Wow! This looks amazing! Love the recipe and am passing to to all my friends :-) You are amazing :-)

Beegirl said...

I am sitting here drooling at the computer. Gosh those look so good! So sorry that your tomatoes didn't work out this year. Keeping my fingers crossed for you for next year. How did summer go by so quickly..?

June said...

Colleen: You are so kind, as always! I hope you and your friends like it as much as we do. Please do let me know...

Beegirl: Well, you and I were in the same boat with tomatoes this year. But the seasons will keep turning until we get another go at it. I'll be cheering for you and for all our tomato plants!

JGH said...

Geez, I'm tempted to go out and buy some cherries just so I can try this!! And if they look this good now, imagine how welcome they'll be in February....!

gardenmama said...

June, this sounds and looks absolutely incredible!!!
what a wonderful idea and beautiful thing to eat come January!

Bloom fine art fotografi said...

Still drooling June...had come back and take a look.

farmama said...

These look incredible!

Dawn said...

No garden for me this year but if I find some cherry tomatoes at the farmer's market this weekend I am going to try this!! There are just too many of my favorite things in this one recipe.

tara said...

i am drowning in cherry tomatoes right now... giving them to neighbors, taking them to park days, eating as many as i can~ i am making this recipe today!
yum yum yum!

Laura A said...

A little behind on the blog reading/commenting, but I am going to try this! Thanks!

SwitchingGranny said...

Mine are in the oven.. and they smell yummy and look like art

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