Colorado Table

Savor those final fall red and green tomatoes, roasted or fried

Put `em in a salad, put `em in a stew, You can make your very own tomato juice, Eat `em with eggs, eat `em with gravy, Eat `em with beans, pinto or navy.” – Lyrics from “Homegrown Tomatoes” by Guy Clark. (AP Photo/The Durango Herald)

It’s ugly tomato season and that’s a reason to smile.

The recent first freeze of the season had local farmers and gardeners alike quickly harvesting their tomatoes, many of them oddly shaped, half-ripe or green.

Some will cook down the ripe ones to make tomato sauce for canning or freeing but that still leaves a whole lot of tomatoes to deal with.

We’ve uncovered two recipes that may help. The first provided by The Metro Denver Farmers Markets is less a recipe than a series of tips on making oven-dried tomatoes. The second from heirloomgardens.blogspot.com teaches how to make that classic Southern dish, fried green tomatoes. They make a great dinner side dish, a sandwich filling or as a veggie base for eggs Benedict.

Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Wash enough tomatoes to fill the sheet and cut out the stem core. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise or in quarters. Scoop out and discard the seeds, leaving as much pulp as possible. Place the tomatoes, cut sides up, on the prepared pan. Place them close together since they shrink a lot during baking. Squish as much garlic as you like and mix with olive oil and spoon over tomatoes (add sprigs of fresh thyme if you like), season with salt and pepper. Bake 6 to 8 hours or until the tomatoes are reduced in size but still retain their shape. The time the tomatoes take to cook will vary because their size and moisture content. By the end, they are almost caramelized and crispy on the edges. Remove from the oven and cool. They’ll last in the fridge in an airtight container for 4 weeks or more, or about 8 months frozen in an airtight freezer bag.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Slice the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick. Lightly salt the slices on both sides. Dip the slices in a mixture of cornmeal with a dash of cayenne. There’s no need to dip the slices in something first; they will be wet from slicing although some cooks like to dip in beaten eggs before the crumbs.

Heat a few tablespoons of canola or olive oil (preferably in a cast-iron skillet) over low to low-medium heat. You will want to cook the slices low and slow so they cook all the way through and soften a bit before they get too browned. Place the slices in the skillet. When they start to brown on the bottom, flip them over. Sprinkle black pepper on the second side and wait until the underside is brown. You may need to add a little more oil for additional batches. Remove slices to a paper towel-covered plate to drain and serve warm.

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