Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tomatoes: Thaw 'Em If You Got 'Em

Last year I went nuts making roasted tomato sauce, ladling it into freezer bags, stacking them in our tiny fridge-top freezer compartment, and waiting for the winter doldrums to set in.
You know. Those doldrums that can only be satisfied by a taste of summer. Whip out a bag of sweet-acidic red nostalgia, melt it into a kettle with some dreary root vegetables, and grasp at fleeting memories of late sunsets, skeeters over the grass, and the flavor of August in your mouth.
Well, it did happen a few times. I made a couple of pots of temporally incongruous minestrone soup, doling out miserly dollops of my precious tomato elixer. I thawed a sack or two for some long-braised meats, long-forgotten now. I even wallowed in a few self-indulgent bowls of tomato soup, made once with cream, next time without (stunningly deep and pure) and then one more time with cream (or yogurt or something).
But I'm not kidding when I tell you we've only used about two-thirds of the tomato sauce I preserved.
And I'm not kidding when I tell you I'm already buying fresh tomatoes at the market for only $2 a pound. I had a plate of sliced 'maters last night, drenched with stellar olive oil and showered with sea salt. Heaven.
Furthermore, I'm not kidding when I tell you I'm already planning on roasting up more batches of nature's bounty in a few months, when the price drifts downward to about a buck a pound for ridiculously ripe, need-to-be-used-NOW tomatoes of all varieties: sweet, dark, wet, tart, thick, cracked, big, small...
Between now and August, though, I've got a few more bags of last year's bounty awaiting a quick thaw, and I plan to make quick work of them.
Today's lunch was my template for many lunches to come: A sack of thawed tomatoes. A splash of cucumber juice. Some chopped peppers, onions, peasant bread... Oh, you know the drill. You've memorized your own favorite recipe for gazpacho; you don't need to hear mine.
Well, I must persuade you that the concentrated flavor of slightly roasted tomatoes makes the best damn gazpacho, and I recommend it.
Now, if I can just eke out those few remaining sacks of tomato sauce until I'm ready to roast again...
UPDATE: Not that this soup could ever compete with the "George Clooney of tomato soups."


Catherine said...

That picture is very inviting! I was just thinking I must make a cold, flavorful soup to get through these hot days.

I never think of making extra and freezing - perhaps because every time I open the freezer door, something jumps/slides out. I must plan...

sher said...

Hey, did you make this soup of yours for George while he was at your house......? (Thanks for the shout out!) I love to freeze up summer tomato sauce, it tastes so much better than any sauce made from canned tomatoes. It's a special moment during the winter making something with summer sauce. Your soup looks wonderful, by the way!

Kalyn said...

Hey, it may not be the George Clooney of tomato soups, but using your roated tomatoes for gazpacho is brilliant. And I do have some roasted tomatoes in the freezer and cucumbers in the garden. Must get thawing.

Kevin said...

"temporally incongruous"


cookiecrumb said...

Catherine: I currently have a bad case of "freeze-brain": I want to buy a freezer to store extra stocks, etc.!

Sher: He said he'd much prefer your version of soup, thank you very much. I'm totally going to do it your way next time. (George? You listening?)

Kalyn: Cucumbers in the garden... Sigh.

Kevin: !!!

drbiggles said...

OooOo, neat. I spent Sunday afternoon dicing fresh maters for a red sauce. A friend drove down from Redding and bought them along the side of the road from a woman's personal garden. They're okay, a little woody at the stem. Mad a damned fine sauce.
I simmered a few racks of baby back ribs in it. HOOYAH.


Dagny said...

*sigh* I am suddenly hungry and it's just too warm to be bothered with making anything. Guess I'll be dining out today. And I really should stop reading your stuff if I haven't sufficiently dined beforehand.

michelle said...

I've got tons of summer berries I froze last year still in the freezer too...and now here it is berry season again. Oops. I want to hear your recipe for gazpacho! I absolutely love it, but I had some in Spain in this tiny little white hill town in the Sierra Nevadas and I've never been able to match it, and now I compare all gazpachos to the memories I have of it! It was heaven - it tasted like a fresh vegetable garden, only smooth and silky.

cookiecrumb said...

OK, Biggles, you probably already used up your free tomatoes. Gazpacho next time!

Dagny: Always keep a pint of ice cream on hand for times like this.

Michelle: Silky smooth? Then you wouldn't like mine; too lumpy. I do use torn up bread, which I suppose I could pulverize in the blender and pass through a sieve, but you know me and sieves -- uh-uh. But my flavor secret is a squirt of Spanish sherry vinegar.

Greg said...

You growing toms this year? I got bunches of green ones but none ripe yet. Got some early girls at the FM that got me thinking of tomatoes to come.