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The Autumn Harvest: Last Tomatoes Of The Year...

Well it’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in. There’s a noticeable chill in the air. Leaves are falling from the trees. Chestnuts are strewn along the ground. Birds and squirrels are busy fattening themselves up for the winter months. All of nature is readying itself for winter.

My garden is beginning to show signs of the cooler days and nights. Leaves are turning brown and my once prolific tomato plants are no longer producing the lovely juicy tomatoes that we enjoyed so much these past few months. This is what I believe to be my final tomato harvest of the year and I would like to do something special with them.

When I was younger I had an allergy to tomatoes. Fortunately this was an allergy I ‘grew out of’ because I adore tomatoes. I have a few favourite recipes for fresh tomatoes.

One is a simple – VERY simple pasta sauce that I sometimes make for lunch when I feel the need for a Mediterranean boost.

Luna Raye’s very simple tomato sauce for one.

Ingredients

A handful of cherry tomatoes (approximately 8-9).

1 clove of minced garlic.

Drizzle of olive oil.

Pinch of salt.

Directions

Heat a drizzle of olive oil (about 1- 1 ½ tsp) in a pan over moderate heat.

Add the tomatoes. You can put them in whole or chop them in half if you prefer.

Turn down the heat, add the salt and allow the tomatoes to reduce (10 minutes or so).

Give them a stir every so often and about half way through add the minced garlic.

It will smell fantastic!

Meanwhile put on some water for pasta – Penne is a good choice for this sauce – and cook the pasta according to packet directions.

Once the pasta is cooked drain it and add it to the pan with the tomatoes and garlic and give it a quick mix on the heat.

Season with black pepper and more salt if desired.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Tomato Sauce Extras

The thing about this sauce is that you can keep it very simple. However you can also add some extra ingredients such as caramelized onions, a splash of red wine, fresh basil leaves or parmesan shavings. It does work extremely well though with just the fresh tomatoes and garlic.

Another dish I like to make with fresh tomatoes is a chunky salsa sauce for corn chips. This is a great Happy Hour snack. It is tastier (and healthier) then store bought brands and is once again a very simple recipe.

Luna Raye’s very simple chunky salsa served warm (for two).

Homemade Chunky Salsa and Tortilla Chips

Homemade Chunky Salsa and Tortilla Chips

Ingredients

A handful of cherry tomatoes chopped in half (approximately 8-9).

½ Spanish onion chopped in long thin strips.

1 tsp brown sugar.

1 pepper chopped in bite sized chunks. (green or orange peppers are great for added colour)

½ fresh chilli (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes).

1 ½ Tbsp of frozen sweet corn.

1 clove minced garlic.

Drizzle of olive oil.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Directions

Heat a drizzle of olive oil (about 1- 1 ½ tsp) in a pan over moderate heat.

Add the onions and the brown sugar. Mix well and allow the onions to caramelize. Make sure the heat isn’t too high.

Once the onions have softened gradually add the minced garlic, a pinch of salt, and the chilli.

Stir until mixed in and then add the tomatoes and pepper.

Cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At the last moment add the frozen sweet corn and mix in well.

Season with salt and pepper is desired.

Turn off heat and cover the pan.

Allow the mixture to rest while drinks are prepared.

Serve on individual plates with a side of plain salted corn chips.

Enjoy!

I am still undecided as to what to create with this final harvest of tomatoes! Sometimes however, it is nice to just enjoy the simple flavour of something as beautiful and perfect as a tomato grown in your own garden. I may just eat them exactly as they are while dreaming of what next year’s harvest will bring!

I wish all my fellow Canadians a happy, peaceful and abundant Thanksgiving weekend.

Final Tomato Harvest of 2010

Final Tomato Harvest of 2010

Happy Hour Cocktail: Mackay Martini...

My parents house move was successful and they are now busily settling in to their new home.

One of the house warming gifts they received was a bag of bush lemons from a friend’s garden. I had never heard of them before and they are certainly strange looking things.

They have a very intense lemon flavour which adds a wonderful fresh zing. I use lemon zest on pasta, in salads, soups, in muffins, breads and on yoghurt. It really brings a fresh summery pick me up to so many dishes.

Lemon juice is ideal for salad dressings, marinades and as an addition to drinks – particularly cocktails.

Last night for happy hour I decided to make one of my favourite drinks: a gin martini. A martini needs a good helping of lemon peel and it gave me a great excuse to try the bush lemons.

It was lemony and delicious and provided a welcome happy hour break from unpacking boxes!

Luna Raye’s Mackay Martini

Ingredients

1 ounce good quality gin ( Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray are ideal choices)

1 capful of dry vermouth

3 generous strips of bush lemon peel (if you can’t get ahold of bush lemons use the peel from regular UNWAXED lemons).

Add about 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice.

Directions

In a glass add 3 ice cubes.

Add the capful of dry vermouth and swish around the glass coating the ice cubes and bottom half of the glass.

Add the ounce of gin.

Add the bush lemon peel and juice.

(If you aren’t using bush lemons then add the unwaxed peel and juice of a regular lemon).

Enjoy!

If only the oven was working I would love to use the lemons to make a lemon drizzle cake.

Bush Lemon

Bush Lemon an essential ingredient in the Mackay Martini

Mackay Martini

Mackay Martini