To grow a tomato or a pepper and prepare a meal from your labor and care is primordially satisfying.” — Nell Newman
Frost finally hit here in Austin a couple of weeks ago (although it was nearly 80 degrees yesterday so I wouldn’t exactly say winter has hit…). I had more than a dozen tomato plants still in the garden–some left over from summer and some grafting projects I’d successfully attempted–and they were heavy with tomatoes that hadn’t ripened.
It’s against my nature to let anything from the garden go to waste, so of course I had to rescue the poor unripened fruit. I had no plan for it, I just knew it had to come inside before dark.
Luckily I have a very willing garden helper. I don’t know how much longer Connor will want to pick tomatoes with me but I’m going to shamelessly use him for manual labor for as long as I can get away with it (especially since he’s such an enthusiastic hornworm hunter…)
This is a little embarrassing coming from a hardcore foodie/longtime gardener, but I wasn’t even sure I could use unripened tomatoes. My grandmother was Southern so of course I know all about frying them…but was that a special kind of tomato that ripened green or was it the unripe variety?
A little internet digging answered all my questions. Yes, these unripened fruit are the same that are fried. Yes, they are edible and enjoyable. But what to do with them all? The obvious thing is to fry them, but there’s no way I was going to do that to the whole bowl. So I got searching again, hunting out some new green tomato recipes, and found some great ones. Green Tomato Quick Bread, Green Tomato Relish, Green Tomato Pie…the possibilities seem to be endless.
Which is good, because I’ve got gobs and gobs of these things…
I ended up trying out 100 Days of Real Food’s recipe for Green Tomato Relish first, which I adjusted a bit for my own tastes (recipe below). It was deliciously tangy and slightly sweet, perfect to spread on sandwiches or use to top scrambled eggs.
Hopefully this weekend I’ll get through the rest of these little green gems and have some new recipes under my belt!
6 oz yellow or white onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
10 oz green tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
6 oz yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
6 oz apple, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp each cumin seeds, coriander seeds
1/2 Tbsp each fresh cilantro and thyme
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
Roughly chop all the vegetables (you’ll be slightly mashing it all at the end so consistency isn’t uber-important) and place them along with all the ingredients except the olive oil into a heavy pot or dutch oven. Heat over medium-low for 30-45 minutes, until all the vegetables have become very soft. Add water as needed to keep it from getting too thick and stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
When the relish is finished cooking, remove it from heat, stir in the oil and using a potato masher, lightly mash everything to break it down some. The result should look something like this…
You can absolutely add chilies or jalapenos to the recipe. I left them out in hopes that the boy would try some. Make sure to freeze or water-bath can whatever you don’t think you’ll use in a couple of weeks. Enjoy!