August 23, 2013

The end of summer garden generally falls into one of two categories. So abundant the gardener is making stealth visits to neighbor’s homes with zucchini the size of baseball bats and bags overflowing with tomatoes or, unfortunately, the other option, sad and desolate with a few hardy chiles and cherry tomatoes in among all the vigorous vegetation.

I’m going to make a huge admission. The potager, started with great enthusiasm, has been treated like a unwelcome houseguest for the last few weeks.

My garden is getting on my nerves.

IMG_1116 All the heirloom tomato plants filled with promise in June have been overwhelmed by volunteer cherry tomato vines. Where are my Cherokee Purples? What about Mr. Stripey? Lost to the Sweet One Hundreds and the ever abundant Sungolds. My great hopes for padron peppers? Crushed. The plants are happy but there are no flowers because the CHERRY TOMATOES ARE CREATING TOO MUCH SHADE. The three cucumber vines that were sure to provide enough for relish and a round of dill pickles? Cucumber wilt got ‘em. The plants melted away the last time we were out of town.

The raspberry canes are long and lush with no signs of flowers. I know these are late season berries, but isn’t it late season already? Three okra plants are nearly as tall as I am. And there are six or seven okra each week. Total.  Unfortunately, I planted the wrong variety. I think these are called cow-horn okra and they’re enormous and way too seedy for my liking. Perfect for gumbo, they’re too big to fit in a pickling jar.

IMG_1127I have to give props to the poblano, shishito and jalapeno plants. They just keep on giving back. Every visit to the garden, I fill the basket with shishitos (quickly blistered, showered with salt and devoured) and poblanos (with favorite recipes for rajas or tapenade.) And dozens and dozens of cherry tomatoes. I should not complain.

Lessons learned, all of them, and I’m already planning what I will do differently next year. There is still time to get some winter garlic in the ground, to plant leeks, put in lettuce seeds and rows of greens, carrots and beets to overwinter, but, frankly, I’m not hopeful. I’m afraid a looming deadline takes precedence over the hoe.

It hasn’t been too weedy, which is a boon. I do like to go gathering all that’s growing, and pulling a few creeper vines, mustard and other familiar weeds takes only a few minutes each time. Lily weed, scourge of the Rock Creek Community Garden, is around, but it’s easy enough to eradicate. The slim stem harbors a nodule four inches below the soil surface. Each must be dug out, but the soil is loamy and rich and turns easily, so a swift, deep thrust of the transplant spade brings weed, nodule and roots right out of the ground. Lily weed strikes fear in my heart only because I do not want to get a “notice” from the Garden Authorities. Two strikes and you’re out.

I’ve made the best of the cherry tomato explosion. Every visit to the garden yields about a pint of little orbs. This confit is easy and quick to make, holds at least a week in the fridge, and goes with everything. It’s the very essence of a condiment, perfect on the side.

IMG_1102Cherry Tomato Confit
Recipe can be doubled, tripled, or halved
Active Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: One hour

2 cups assorted cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1/2 lemon, sliced thinly into half moons
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Spread the tomatoes out in a pie pan or baking dish or on a sheet pan. Add the garlic, lemon, Herbes de Provence and oil. Stir to coat everything in the oil.

Bake slowly for one hour at 325°F.

When cool, scrape the confit into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Serve at room temperature. Will keep for about a month, if it lasts that long.

Congratulations to Joan who makes udon with spicy peanut sauce topped with whatever veggies she has in the house. Her name was selected randomly from all of you nice people who commented on my last post. Joan, a copy of Joe Yonan’s Eat Your Vegetables is yours as soon as you send me your mailing address.

19 Responses to “the perfect condiment. cherry tomato confit.”

  1. kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts

    Do you think this would freeze? My spouse won’t be home until after cherry tomato season ends, and I’m looking for ways to preserve the flavor for him to enjoy when he’s back home.

    • Cathy

      Kirsten, I don’t think it will freeze, but I am guessing it will last quite awhile in the refrigerator, as long as the tomatoes are kept under a layer of oil.

      • kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts

        Perfect. I’m one of those people who is eating her fridge-pickled cucumbers in February (and I didn’t pickle them in January) so I’m very comfortable with keeping condiments in the fridge for longer than suggested times.
        Thanks, Cathy!

  2. Sande

    Sounds lovely, a must try this weekend but what ia a good substitute for herbs de Provence? Love your recipes and so looking forward to your book, thank you.

  3. Sylvie

    My mother-in-law has cherry tomatoes growing all over her property. She planted them years ago on one side of the house but they are now growing on the side of the house, in front of the house, and all along the shed. She can’t give the the cherry tomatoes away fast enough. We are paying a visit in three weeks and she has already warned us that we are going home with bucket loads.

    Thank you for the recipe! I will need it.

  4. Catherine

    I’m making these.
    Looks fresh, delish and easy.
    A perfect double header.
    cheers, Catherine

  5. Cheryl

    I’ve made similar every time I have cherry tomatoes that are getting a little withered-looking. After I finish roasting them, I pop them right into the freezer–works beautifully! My most favorite thing to do is spread them on any kind of flat bread or pizza dough, instant and FAR more delicious than any pizza sauce you ever had, topped with any favorite cheese maybe some basil, or whatever–go to town!

  6. Bevi

    Today I made Davied Leibowitz’ Roasted Figs, a nice fresh fig and cognac jam, a batch of bread and butter pickles, and a corn salad with my leftover ears of grilled corn.

  7. Samantha M

    Since it’s not shelf stable, how do you freeze them? In individual bags, then defrost and put in oil in the fridge?

    Trying to figure out how to have a large amount on hand to last longer.


    • Cathy

      This is not a recipe that is meant to be canned. Sorry! Cherry tomatoes are not suggested for canning (skin/seed/pulp ratio is off) so eat them now and enjoy them!

  8. A Canadian Foodie

    I make the most delicious oven roasted tomatoes with simply garlic, sea salt and olive oil… surprised you add lemon as tomatoes are already so acidic.
    Love tomatoes.

  9. Chanie

    Glad to read about your garden, especially since I’ve had some of the same issues this summer!
    I’ve been making something similar with cherry tomatoes, with varied herbs depending on what I pick from the garden. I also did a spicy version with chili, which gives a nice kick to the tomatoes.
    I agree that they are great on bread, and also added some to gazpacho.
    Do you have any suggestions for green cherry tomatoes? I had to cut some back, and was about to pickle them.

  10. Christine

    THANK YOU for this. With a yellow pear tomato plant that has risen up in revolution, declared its independence, and staged a takeover of my raised bed…. this is PERFECT. I just put a triple batch in the oven. There’s a girls’ night in (appetizers, dinner, and wine) coming up and I’m excited to have something delicious to bring that also unearths me from beneath a glut of tiny tomatoes!


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