Monday, September 15, 2014

Meatless Monday: What Do You Do When You’ve Bought the Farm?

Last Sunday we headed out to Bishop’s Orchards to pick some peaches, but we succumbed to temptation and came home with so much more.

The trees were laden with perfect peaches, so plentiful and within such easy reach that we filled our two, 8 qt. bags in no time at all. To our delight, McIntosh apples were also ripe—deep red and growing in clusters like grapes on the trees. We picked two bags of them as well.

We stopped for some corn at the farm market and ended up buying six, huge, sweet ears, along with a half bushel basket of tomatoes, a couple of pounds of green beans, and some salad fixings.

What do you do when you are a family of two and you feel like you’ve bought the farm?

You eat, you store, you simmer, you bake, you freeze — without delay.

It was a lot of work, but in the deep, dark days of winter, we’ll be happy to grab a taste of summer from the freezer.

The tomatoes were the biggest challenge — so many, so perfectly ripe, so perishable. They required our immediate attention.

Some went into sauce. Some were turned into tomato pesto [next week’s post].

About a third became Tomato Confit, a slow roasted, gooey concoction of tomatoes, garlic, shallots, olive oil, and herbs that is perfect for serving with fresh bread. 

I first heard of Tomato Confit in a 2005 recipe column by student Gordon Jenkins in the Yale Daily News.

The usual confit is duck, goose, pork, or other meat cooked slowly in its own fat. But confit can actually be any food that has been slowly cooked in a liquid  that is inhospitable to bacterial growth. In the case of a fruit this can be oil or concentrated sugar syrup.

In fact, it was thoughts of Tomato Confit that drove the recent purchase of the basket of tomatoes. 

In Gordon’s own words: “Tomato confit is a can-do. Oh yes.” If we can make it, you can, too.  All you need is time and patience.

Gordon Jenkins’s Tomato Confit

  • 5 cups of sauce (plum) tomatoes, sliced horizontally into 1-inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup of whole shallots or pearl onions, peeled
  • 1 head of garlic (about 12 whole cloves), peeled
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
  • 3 T of fresh savory or thyme [I have only used thyme]
  • 1/2 cup of fresh sage
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil 
  • Sea salt

  • Preheat the oven to 250° F.
  • In a large rimmed baking pan (preferably about an inch deep), lay the tomatoes in a single flat layer.
  • Scatter the shallots and garlic evenly throughout the pan.
  • Do the same with the herbs.
  • Pour the oil over everything.
  • Salt generously. [Gordon calls for 1/2 tablespoon, but I use about half that amount.]
  • Place the pan in the oven and roast for at least two hours.

The confit is ready when the shallots and garlic have cooked through, the tomatoes are wrinkly,  and everything has congealed into what Gordon termed “that perfect ecstatic mush.”

Serve the confit warm with bread for soaking up the leftover oil.

I have found Tomato Confit freezes well, should there be any leftovers.  Just be sure to warm it up before serving. 

Grab some tomatoes and be ready for next week when I share my recipe for Tomato Pesto, which takes even longer… 

Happy Monday. Have a great week!

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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