Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tomatomania makes even me look good

I am such a crappy gardener that last year I actually paid a farmer to grow vegetables in my own back yard for me.

My farmer's name was Anthony, and he was awesome.  I had beautifully tended raised beds of exotic produce, and bumper crops of squash and eggplant.  I also had a husband who informed me that I needed to stop hanging out with my girlfriends who were doing things like hiring farmers.  

So this year, I was on my own.  

Consequently, my carefully selected* baby heirlooms from the good people at Tomatomania, planted lovingly back in April in neat rows and tied up with string, are now a massive jungle of crazy ass tangled up tomato plants.  Plus, there's a scraggly patch of sage and some sad, leggy basil bushes with holes in all the leaves, probably from some kind of icky bug.  Anthony would know, but I'm not allowed to call him anymore**.

Amazingly, the tomatoes are thriving under my policy of complete and utter neglect, and the thicket is spewing out fruit like there's no tomorrow.

I can't take any credit for the crop, but I will take credit for all the delicious food we've been having as a result***.

Heirloom Tomato Pie

Besides just slicing and eating in favorite summer salads like this one and this one and cooked sauces like this one, here are a few new tomato treats we've enjoyed lately:

Egg White Frittata with Cherry Tomatoes, Rosemary and Parmesan

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

A simple, healthy, delicious way to start the day.
  • A handful of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh rosemary.
  • 3-4 egg whites (can use whole eggs if you like!)
  • Seasoned or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A little butter
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Wash, rinse, stem and halve the cherry tomatoes.
  • Chop a little fresh rosemary.
  • Lightly beat the egg whites with a fork, and add salt and fresh pepper.
  • Heat a small, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add a pat of butter. When butter is sizzling, add the egg whites. Place tomatoes, cut side down, into the pan, and sprinkle on the rosemary.
  • Using a spatula, gently lift the edges of the eggs around the pan, and allow liquid portion to flow underneath. When the bottom is set but the top is still runny, remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle with a little shaved Parmesan cheese, and transfer to the oven.
  • Bake for 5 minutes or so, until puffed and completely set.
  • Slide out onto a plate and enjoy.

Heirloom Tomato Pie
A "Cook my mailbox" recipe.  I was intrigued by the idea of using a biscuit dough for the crust.  I added a little Parmesan and black pepper to the biscuit dough, which was both tasty and a breeze to make, and used Trader Joe's Italian cheese blend instead of the gruyere in the original recipe.  Otherwise, just follow the instructions here.  The result was almost like a county-style pizza. 

Tomato Conserva
Also from that same issue of Fine Cooking, an easy way to preserve the evidence of my accidental green thumb. Tomatoes get a slow roast in the oven, then hop into a jar.  I covered mine with fruity olive oil, and plan to break them out with fresh pasta and maybe some roasted corn soon.  Or perhaps a grilled cheese sandwich! Conserva instructions here.

Up next, warm Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette, from Bon Appetit.  How great does this look?

Photo linked from

* I'm a lousy gardener, but an ace shopper.  That means I generally buy really good plants and then kill them.
** I did spring for Anthony to come by once and get the plants settled in properly.  He was only mildly horrified by what had happened to the farm while he'd been gone.
*** And give credit to this month's issue of Fine Cooking, which had a little Tomatomania of its own going on.


  1. Oh my gosh, I think your garden is magnificent! Orderly little rows are HIGHLY overrated. A big-ass tangle is the way to go, as long as it gives you lots of tomatoes! I need to make that free form tart for dinner. Like right now!

    1. Thanks for the positive reinforcement on my absurd jungle!

  2. Holy tomato! This post has just inspired me in so many ways. I have one lonely tomato plant on my deck but now I'm motivated to get a few more. Such a beautiful tomato pie & those!!

    1. Even if you don't get another tomato plant, these treats are worth grabbing a bunch of ripe ones from a farmer's market to make. Love this time of year! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Congratulations on your heirloom tomatoes!! That pie/tart/galette looks incredible :)

    PS: I too neglect my plants. They hide on my balcony behind closed curtains. Out of sight, out of mind...