For several years now we have been receiving generous gifts of organic vegetables from our friends garden. This year all crops were in abundance and we had substantial quantities of tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic and apples. Tomatoes came in boxes and cucumbers in large bags, so it was out of the question that we can simply enjoy eating them, or use them in different dishes. I wanted to process these vegetables quickly with little effort to preserve all their goodness for later cooking needs. Recipes below are not exactly recipes, but some ideas how to deal with abundance of home-grown organic heirloom vegetables.
I washed and dried selected smaller tomatoes, cut them in half, seasoned them with sea salt, sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves and put them in dehydrator at 70C for 8 hours, taking some pieces out earlier, depending on how moist/dry I wanted them.
These tomatoes can be stored refrigerated with some cold pressed olive oil added, but ours were consumed half, still warm, and the rest within a week, so I stored them in a glass container with a tight lid.
They were amazing! Very addictive.
Freshly frozen tomato sauce with garlic, chilli and parsley
I have frozen 600ml portions of this sauce to be used later for meatball dishes, to make casseroles, ragout or stews, both only with vegetables, or with meat/poultry.
To make this sauce I washed and dried tomatoes, made two small cuts in their skin and covered tomatoes in boiling water for 1 min or even less. The skin was very easy to remove. For a large bowl of tomatoes I used 2 large garlic heads, 3 medium/hot long chillies, a bunch of parsley, 1/2 a tea spoon of black pepper and sea salt to taste. I first blended garlic, chillies and parsley with 4-5 tomatoes and salt, and added the rest of tomatoes when garlic and parsley had a consistency of coarse paste. I had to run my blender two times to process all tomatoes from the bowl. When both portions were mixed I checked the seasoning and added salt to my liking. Plastic bags were placed on a tray and places into freezer. As soon as the sauce was frozen, all 4 individual bags were put in another sealed bag for safe keeping in the freezer.
Cooked tomato sauce with garlic, capsicum, chilli and parsley
I made the second type of tomato sauce, with more intense taste and heat to be kept refrigerated for 3-4 weeks, and used in different dishes both as a spicy sauce or just as added spice preserve in mild dishes.
This sauce was prepared the same way, as the first one, with only 2 differences. In terms of ingredients I used 4 bird’s-eye chilli with added 1 extra large capsicum to the mix. After the sauce was blended I cooked it up to the boiling point and for another 10 minutes. Hot sauce was poured into clean glass jars, immediately covered with lids and stored refrigerated after the contents of the jars cooled down. This more spicy sauce can be mixed with stock or water in cooking, or added in small quantities (3-5 table spoons) just to add flavour to any dish.
Chicken drumsticks cooked in organic tomatoes
The abundance of tomatoes allowed me to use them in cooking as well. Simple cooking of chicken drumsticks in one pot with organic tomatoes, leek, onions and capsicum, with added garlic and chilli, gave an amazingly flavoursome dish, which stayed for several days as tasty as it was when just freshly cooked.
The recipe of this dish, with step by step photos, can be found here.
I used organic garlic which had wonderful mild flavour to make my regular preserve with hot chillies and sweet chillies. When I used this garlic first time to make preserve, I run out of parsley and made the paste without it. The paste was actually better without parsley and allowed this wonderful garlic flavour to shine.
Ingredients composition for this paste is very flexible. When I can get quality sweet chilli peppers, I do not use red capsicum, which results in more concentrated and dense paste.
This paste has a special place in our household, I always make it, and always have it in my fridge. It simplifies cooking on the one hand, and simultaneously lifts any dish to another level in terms of flavours. I use this paste for everything, starting with soups and casseroles, and ending with savoury pancakes and bread baking.
Cucumbers were very large and a touch overgrown. Their size, however, did not take away their amazing juicy and nearly sweet taste. It was obvious that as whole cucumbers they will not last the time which will take us to consume them.
I decided to try lightly fermented salad with garlic paste. We enjoyed this salad/short preserve either as a salad on the side, or the complete side dish for sausages and chicken. It easily lasted for more than a week in the fridge. With time sliced cucumber became softer and the liquid acquired slightly sour taste because of slow fermentation occurring during storage. Salad preparation was very simple. Peel cucumbers, cut them in halves, take the seeds out, slice them on mandoline slicer, add sea salt, black pepper, 2-3 sliced garlic cloves, and a good spoon of garlic and chilli paste, mix and the salad is ready to eat or for storage.
The same salad stored for 6 days in the fridge.
Homemade chicken breast sausages served with potato mash, fresh organic tomatoes and fermented organic cucumber salad. Simple and delightful meal.