What to do with your late summer tomatoes

tomatoes

BY ROBIN MATHER
CHICAGO TRIBUNE/TNS

If anything says “the end of summer,” it’s school buses and tomatoes.

Naturally you’ll want to make some salsa to can or freeze. 

Surely, you’ll want to enjoy tomatoes at their peak, whether your favorite way is in a drippy tomato sandwich or in a Caprese salad with milky fresh mozzarella and fragrant fresh basil anointed with your best olive oil. 

We have three additional ways you can enjoy fresh tomatoes this season: A cherry tomato conserve, a chicken-tortellini-tomato salad and a tomato pie topped with pimiento cheese.


TOMATO PIE WITH PIMIENTO CHEESE TOPPING

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Makes: 6 to 8 servings

PIE

  • 6 large tomatoes, cored, sliced vertically in 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pastry for one 9-inch deep-dish pie, homemade or purchased
  • 2 cups grated American or mild cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 sleeve buttery crackers, such as Ritz, crumbled (25 crackers, about 1 cup crumbled), or 3/4 cup panko crumbs

TOPPING

  • 1 cup grated American or mild cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1 jar (4 ounces) pimientos, drained, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco, Frank’s or Cholula
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes; scatter salt over the slices. Roast the tomatoes, on the middle shelf, until dry, 1 hour, 20 minutes. Slice one to test it; it should be dry all the way through.

Prepare the pie shell for blind-baking. Fit the pastry into the pie dish, fluting the edges to stand up. Prick the bottom and sides of the pastry with a fork in many places. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the pie; pour about 2 cups dry beans, rice or pie weights into it, pushing the weights around so all parts of the bottom are covered.

Place the pie shell on the oven’s top shelf; bake until lightly brown, 15 to 20 minutes, or according to package directions. 

Make the topping: Combine 1 cup shredded cheese, mayonnaise, green onion, pimientos, garlic, hot sauce and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. 

Remove the tomatoes and the pie shell from the oven; set aside to cool, 5 to 10 minutes. Begin to fill the pie: Scatter 1 cup cheese over the bottom of the pie shell; make a layer of tomatoes. Strew about half the torn basil leaves over the tomatoes. Scatter half the crumbled crackers over the basil leaves.

Repeat with another layer of cheese, tomatoes, basil and cracker crumbs, ending with another layer of sliced tomatoes. Spread the topping over the tomatoes; scatter black pepper over the topping. 

Bake until the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes. If the crust begins to brown too quickly, shield with foil crimped around the edges.

Remove pie from oven; allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving. 

Nutrition information per serving (for 8 servings): 519 calories, 41 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 27 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 14 g protein, 792 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.


CHICKEN-TORTELLINI-TOMATO SALAD

Prep: 45 minutes
Marinate: 8 hours
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 package (7 to 12 ounces) dried tricolor or regular cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions, drained
  • 4 green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

DRESSING

  • 4 large Roma-type tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

Make the marinade by stirring together the tahini, olive oil, water and garlic in a bowl, or blend in a zip-close bag. Add the chicken, turning to coat all sides; refrigerate, 8 to 12 hours. 

At cooking time, remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. On an oiled grill grate or in a heavy nonstick grill pan, cook the chicken over medium-high heat until it’s cooked through, turning to avoid burning, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a clean plate; set aside until cool enough to handle. When cool, cut the chicken into 1/2-inch dice; place in a large bowl. 

Add the tortellini, green onions, celery, tomatoes and walnuts, if using. 

Make the dressing: Place tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, green onions and garlic in a blender or food processor. Whiz until the mixture is smooth. Makes: 2 1/4 cups. 

Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup dressing over the chicken mixture. (Save the remainder for other salads or as a marinade.) Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl; garnish with chopped parsley before serving. 

Nutrition information per serving (for 8 servings, with 3/4 cup dressing): 257 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 91 mg cholesterol, 17 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 19 g protein, 394 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.


CHERRY TOMATO-ONION CONSERVE

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Makes: about 8 cups, or 4 pints

  • 1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, sliced in half-moons
  • 4 pounds cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground clove, ground nutmeg

Place all ingredients into a 12-inch shallow pot or 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Place the pot over medium-high heat, bring it to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook, uncovered, and stirring occasionally, until the mixture attains the consistency of jam, 40 minutes. (It’s OK if the tomatoes break down completely.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 

Taste and correct seasonings. Divide the conserve among 4-pint jars. Refrigerate when fully cooled. 

Nutrition information per tablespoon: 10 calories, 1 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 0 g protein, 31 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.

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