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Looking for recipes that allow me to use my damaged tomatoes

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I have a half-dozen or so slicing tomatoes (Celebrity) that somehow didn't grow properly...they have extreme vertical splitting on the top. However, the bottoms look OK. If I cut them open and I can use them, what can I make with 6 half tomatoes? We don't eat THAT many sandwiches.

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  1. You can make a quick single server marinara if you simmer with garlic oil and your favorite spices.....or make a nice summer tomato salad....cucumbers onions etc.

    1. I use my "odd" tomatoes in a gazpacho and add a bit of tomato juice if I want more servings. You can also do a fresh sauce over some pasta, or cook them with some zucchinis. Actually, I think the options are endless!

        1. I would say use them for whatever you would have if they weren't split. Maybe I'm not understanding the question?

          8 Replies
          1. re: kengk

            They are slicing tomatoes, the insides don't have a lot of "meat" to them. They don't work well as chunks in salads. (well, maybe really big chunks.) So I wasn't sure what I could do with them as they work best in slices. Then again, I'm an elementary cook, which is why I posted the question here. Mostly, I've only used toms in salads and on sandwiches. I use roma toms to make marinara.

            1. re: E_M

              make do with them in a salad...make salsa...a super-quick tomato sauce (saute a little garlic in olive oil, toss in the chunked tomatoes and some fresh basil -- toss for a few seconds to JUST warm the tomatoes, and dump them over hot pasta....soup...tomato pie (basically a quiche with sliced tomatoes)...or just stand there in the kitchen, eating them over the sink and letting the juice run down your chin (my favorite use for homegrown tomatoes)

              1. re: E_M

                OK. Slicing tomatoes are pretty much the only kind I grow and use them for everything. From sandwiches to sauce to canning.

                If you want to get rid of some of the jelly and seeds, just slice the stem end off and poke your finger down into the chambers to loosen it up and then gently squeeze out.

                1. re: kengk

                  I believe it was on ATK or Cooks Country that they reported that the strongest tomato flavor is in the jelly surrounding the seeds. If seeds bother you in cooked preparations, use a food mill or sieve to get them out while retaining the jelly.

                2. re: E_M

                  I'm with kengk. I'd use them for anything I'd normally use them for. All I grow are Celebrity Supreme and Celebrity tomatoes and I use them in any application from diced tomatoes to sliced to fresh tomato sauce. If you've never made a fresh tomato sauce using Celebrity Supremes or Celebrities I HIGHLY encourage you to try it. It will probably be one of the very best tomato sauces you've ever had.

                  I'm guessing irregular watering caused the splitting. You may want to look into plasticulture. It will solve this problem. It is a much easier way to garden while yielding much superior results to conventional gardening - which is why almost 90% of all commercially grown tomatoes in the United States are grown using plasiticulture.

                    1. re: E_M

                      Sort of. I'm happy to share the method I use though.

                      Using the widest saute pan you have (or pot if you don't have a wide, deep pan), sweat onion and garlic in extra-virgin olive oil then add chopped tomatoes (skins, seeds, and all).

                      Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the tomatoes have "juiced up". Cook, stirring every 15 minutes or so, at a low boil until the liquid has reduced to whatever thickness you like. The way I know it's reduced enough is this: When I walk away from a cooking sauce for 10 or so minutes, the thin juice rises to the top - that's what we're trying to evaporate. The more the sauce reduces, the less juice there is on top of the solids at the bottom of the pan. When this juice is essentially gone and all I'm left with is the solids (that will have turned into a puree by now), then I know it's done.

                      Run this through a food mill and return the puree to the pan/pot. Add a few freshly cut tomato leaves, fresh chopped basil, and fresh chopped oregano to taste (or don't add any herbs at all - it's still amazing with out either) and simmer for 5 minutes. (The tomato leaves add a fresh tomato flavor back to the sauce.)

                      Remove the tomato leaves. Add extra-virgin olive oil of you'd like. Season with kosher salt, no pepper, to taste.

                      The natural sugars that are brought out in these tomatoes by reducing them this much will wow you.

                      1. re: 1POINT21GW

                        And before anyone starts screaming about tomato leaves being poisonous -- as I was about to do -- you might want to read this:


              2. For lunch today, I took the same type of tomato you are describing and made it into a delicious treat like my mother used to serve us, though I have my own twist.

                I seasoned the cut side and quickly cooked on that side on high heat in a little oil to get a bit of caramelization going, then topped with a mound of cheddar cheese and sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs (these were my own croutons that I crumbled, but you can use panko and add a sprinkling of herbs). I baked at 400F until the topping was bubbling. This is a great side dish or lunch main course.

                1. These are the two that I picked this morning. I just cut open the 2 from a few days ago that didn't look QUITE this bad, and believe it or not, they are fine inside. I just lost a little of the tops.

                  The quiche sounds yummy. I will look for a recipe.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: E_M

                    That's what I thought you were talking about. I typically get a good many tomatoes that look like that depending on the rain. They are perfectly good. I always peel my sandwich tomatoes with a paring knife and it's easy to take the grotty parts off as you go.

                    Those in the picture need two or three more days in the window sill. : )

                    1. re: kengk

                      I know it ;)

                      People tell me it's from too much rain, but it has only rained twice in the last 4 months.

                      1. re: E_M

                        It might be from too much rain following too little rain. Irregular watering is the most common cause of splitting. It could, however, be from overpruning and leaving the tomatoes too exposed or an imbalance of nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium. It's hard to tell what it's from without knowing more about your garden.

                        Growing your tomatoes "on plastic" as it's called in the farming community is the way to go.

                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                          The toms were grown in an earthbox. It had a plastic covering; only the stems poked through. I keep the water tube covered to prevent rain (if there ever will be again, who knows) out. There is organic fertilizer beneath the plastic (I followed the directions.) Also some crushed eggshells. The cherry toms and most of the other celebrities are fine. The only problems that I know I had was during the days of 100 degree weather, sometimes the plants wilted and I lost some blossoms. I also picked off 7 hornworms last week. I just don't know how or why the 6 celebrities that i picked this week had the split. The other green ones on the vine have only minimal splitting. And the cherry toms keep coming, and coming, and coming...

                  2. Stuffed tomatoes, two ways:
                    Cut the tops off as far down as necessary. Use your fingers or a small narrow spoon to dig out some of the juice/seeds. Discard these. Choose a filling and proceed:
                    #1 Mix mayonnaise & sour cream with some good curry powder
                    #2 Mix fresh breadcrumbs w/ olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese minced garlic and minced fresh parsley
                    Bake in a 400 degree oven for about ten minutes. Enjoy your tomato bounty.

                    Edit to add: After removing the tough, split top parts, use these exactly as you would any other tomatoes. A good thing to do with ugly tomatoes is to cook them in a very low oven for use later in pasta, etc.
                    200 degree oven; tomatoes and fresh garlic cloves split in half. Toss with olive oil and place on a sheet pan. Cook for an hour and check. Toss or turn the tomatoes and cook for an additional hour. At this point, you can add torn fresh basil leaves, if you wish. Store in the fridge and use for the next couple of weeks. I've never frozen these but don't see a reason that you couldn't have fresh tomatoes all winter.
                    NB: this would be an excellent use for your " .............. cherry toms keep coming, and coming, and coming..."

                    1 Reply
                    1. I like making Greek salad with my tomatoes. Cukes, red onion, green bells, brine-cured black olives, and feta cheese. Make a simple vinaigrette with EVOO, red wine vinegar, fresh oregano, and salt, pepper.

                      I also make oven-dried tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme & a drizzle with EVOO. Bake on sheet pan in 250 oven for 3 - 4 hours depending on how dry you want them. So delicious chopped and tossed with hot pasta, parmesan cheese, and julienne basil.

                      1. I save my ugly tomatoes in a plastic box in the freezer. I trim the uglier parts off (feed to the chickens) and throw the good chunks in the box. When the box is full (it holds about three+ pounds, I'd guess), I thaw and drain, and make a batch of tomato beef chow mein.

                        1. mmm, i am reading josé andrés "made in spain" -- so i suggest what are appealing to me right now: gazpacho, (grated) tomato on toasted garlic bread, marinated manchego cheese, and spain's version of panzanella.

                          also, i made some churro beans last night -- pintos, chopped tomatoes (with some water or chicken broth), onion, garlic, cumin, cilantro, chorizo, chilies -- excellent with some corn tortillas plain or griddled as quesadillas with some good cheese.

                          1. Tomato soup. Definitely use the jelly around the seeds. Blanch the ripened tomatoes, shock in cold water, peel, halve crosswise, push out seeds + jelly into a large fine sieve propped over a big bowl then swirl/press through juices+jelly, chop up meat, cook with whatever sautéed prep/onions or shallots/soffritto you like, basil if you like, break up or blend to your liking, season, eat. Garnish w/ basil leaves or add a dollop of pesto or drizzle basil oil or extra olive oil if you like.

                            Veggie soup. Chop up and cook w/ whatever veggies you like in whatever stock you like.

                            Stir fries. Chop up and add to whatever sliced/marinated meat you like plus any other suitable veggies (try Chinese celery for something different) in a screaming hot wok or big pan.

                            As the tomato-ey/sweet-acid component in Chinese soups, both simmered and double-boiled. An easy one to try: pickled sour mustard (drained, soaked, squeezed, cut up) with chicken pieces (legs and thighs ideal), sliced fresh ginger and tomato slices; simmer for >1hr, season to taste if needed.