The Tomato Answer


Img_1932Have an overabundance of tomatoes in the garden? Have an overabundance of tomatoes that got too much rain and are not quite as tasty as they should be? That’s my story this year.

No problem. Thanks to a trip to Naples last spring, where they served the most delicious pasta sauces ever, which seemed to be mainly olive oil and roasted tomatoes, I have developed the finest tomato consumption vehicle since fresh mozzarella.

Heat an oven to 400 degrees. Take a large pan and drizzle olive oil over it. Cut the tomatoes in half, and place them cut side down in the pan a single layer deep. Salt lightly. Roast until the skins are slightly brown and puffy–roughly half an hour.

Pour off the liquid. Without any burning of fingers, please, pull off the skins and compost them.

In a frying pan, saute an insane amount of chopped garlic in an absurd amount of good green olive oil. Two-thirds of a head of garlic for a pound of pasta is by no means too much here.

After the garlic gets fragrant but before it browns, add the roasted tomatoes. Let them bubble a few minutes, add way too much fresh rosemary, and more sea salt than is strictly good for your blood pressure. Then add more oil for good measure. Cook a few more minutes. Pour over pasta.

I dare you to try not to eat half a pound of this business all by yourself.

I also highly recommend roasted cherry tomatoes on pizza.

Roasted tomatoes freeze well, too. You’ll lose a bit of the acidity that makes fresh tomatoes so special. But they are still a million times better than anything you’ll get in a can.

Now, can anybody return the favor and tell me what I ought to do with my bumper crop of patty pan squashes? There is only so much thin-sliced broiled squash that one family can consume.


  1. The river cottage cookbook has 4 or 5 methods of dealing with excess courgettes that should work well for pattypan too. I didn’t bring it out here with me but its probably on the web somewhere. Most of the methods involved slowly stewing them down into a really nice sauce and then going from there.

  2. I slice my extra squash (patty pan being my fav) pretty thin and dry them in the dehydrator. They don’t give much flavor when re-constituted later but they do help to stretch home made stew or soups, and I guess there is some nutrition still there.

  3. For the squash — and to use up a few extra tomatoes — make Ratatouille. There are tons of recipes on the web, and while most call for eggplant, I often make it with just summer squash. It’s really just a summer vegetable stew, so I use what’s on hand.

  4. Thanks for this recipe, Michelle. I tried roasting tomatoes last summer and loved the result, but lost the method. For me, it sure beats canning!

    As for the pattypan, I would think you could make zucchini bread-type things. Ever had chocolate zucchini cake?

  5. I have a great recipe for pattypan squash from an old BH&G cookbook — it’s not light by any means, but it’s good:

    8 oz mafalda (mini lasagna) noodles or rotini
    2 C asparagus, cut in 2″ pieces
    8 pattypan squash, halved
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 Tbsp butter
    1/2 C heavy whipping cream
    2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
    Parmesan for dusting

    Cook pasta according to pkg directions, drain and keep warm.

    While pasta cooks, cook asparagus, squash, garlic and butter in a large skillet for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently until veggies are crisp-tender. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon, add to drained pasta.

    Pour cream and lemon peel into skillet; bring to boil. Boil until reduced to 1/3 of a cup. Pour over pasta mixture, toss to coat.

    Dust with parmesan to taste.

    Yummy. Even my kids eat this one.

  6. Ooooh! Recipes! Thanks — just in time for dinner tonight. Pity I can’t get some basil to add to it, but Tropical Storm Hannah prevents that right now.

  7. Great recipe! Funny. I look forward to trying it. I love fresh tomatoes over pasta with fresh herbs.

    My tomatoes did well this year and I’ve been trying to find creative ways to use ’em up.

    I made fresh salsa the other day, and basically just made the recipe up myself:

    Peg’s Salsa:

    Chop 4-5 ripe tomatoes, removing as many seeds as you can without working too hard at it.
    Add 3-4 finely chopped spring onions, one finely-chopped green jalapeno pepper, 3 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. You may also add one clove garlic, finely minced, if you wish. Mix in the bowl with a round chopper or biscuit cutter. It might be a bit runny. Serve on quesadillas or with chips and fresh guacamole. Or, mix salsa with mashed fresh avocados to make guacamole.

  8. Great recipe! I just brought another hat full of tomatoes from the school garden I work on 7 days a week. I can’t seem to force anymore on the teachers. When the preschool plot produced many zucchini this summer, I made zapple pie, chocolate zucchini bread, fried it in tempura and sauteed it w/tomatoes, onion,corn and cheese. Yum!

  9. Here’s how I like pattypan squash.

    Cut in half through middle (top to bottom) then in 1/2 inch slices (assuming a roughly 2.5 – 3 inch squash). Cut whole onion in half at the “equator” and then cut each half into wedges – about 12 wedges each. Put a couple turns of the pan of good olive oil into the pan. When hot, add squash and onion and some kosher salt. Cook until JUST done. YUM.

    Garden man starts with frying a few strips of bacon. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Add squash and onion to bacon grease. Saute until done (a bit past crisp tender to all the way tender) and then crumble crisp bacon on top. Also YUM.

  10. I finely grate extra zucchini, squeeze it dry, and toss it in the freezer for zuke bread, pseudo latkes, etc, later in the year. Wouldn’t that work with summer squash too?

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