Now that my Makah Ozette potatoes are sprouting in the basement, I’m trying to find ways to use them faster. Everybody eats more potatoes when they come to the table in the form of French fries, right? So last night I made some Ozette fries.
I’ve used russets, all-purpose potatoes, and waxy potatoes for French fries, but none have produced such distinctive fries as the Ozette. They turned out crisp on the outside, dry on the inside, and surprisingly rigid. This is the potato for anybody who dislikes limp fries.
I’d imagined the coriander chutney as a good accompaniment to the fries, but I preferred the potatoes with the roasted tomatoes as sauce. Because the potatoes lack sweetness, the candy-sweet Sungold-Juliette mix complemented them wonderfully. Next time I might consider frying the potatoes in small chunks and dropping them all straight into the bowl of hot tomatoes.
The coriander chutney did get eaten—it proved a perfect accompaniment to the pan-fried albacore belly that rounded out this meal.
The chutney, tomatoes, and tuna all came out of the freezer, so slicing and frying potatoes was the only real work involved in preparing this little feast.
Two light frosts have blackened the tips of the tomato vines, but the fruits continue to ripen, slowly. They taste like autumn now, cold and a little mealy. I don’t care to haul out the canner for a small basket-load, so into the oven they go. Roasting and freezing are a good way to preserve tomatoes when you’ve had enough of canning and the house is chilly enough to make you want to turn on the oven.
Having misplaced the roasted-tomato recipe I’d developed in past years, I looked through others, on the Internet. How fussy they tend to be. Although tomatoes are rich in sugar and acid, and roasting concentrates both, many writers add sugar and vinegar to their tomatoes before roasting them. Most writers also call for tomatoes of a particular size, and usually you’re to place them all in the pan cut-side up—except in cases in which you’re to place them all cut-side down. Some writers even ask you to seed the tomatoes.
To my mind, all this fuss is a waste. I use tomatoes of any size, and I cut them into halves, quarters, eighths, or more pieces so they will cook into bite-size morsels. I toss them with oil and salt before tossing them into the pan. I add garlic and herbs, but I see those as optional.
The tomatoes end up simmering in their own juices, but they will do that however you slice and place them. Eventually the juices will dry up, and the tomatoes may even char a bit. At this point they are ready, to top pasta, pizza, or a tart or to freeze until later.
The one good tip I’ve garnered from other writers’ recipes is to line the pan with parchment paper. The tomatoes slide cleanly off the paper, and the pan needs barely any scrubbing.
Easy Roasted Tomatoes
4 pounds tomatoes, of any kind and any size, cut into chunks 3 to 4 garlic cloves (if you like garlic) 2 teaspoons fresh savory or thyme leaves ¼ cup olive oil 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Set a convection oven to 300 degrees F. (or a regular oven to 325 degrees F.), and line a 12-by-17-inch nonreactive pan with parchment paper. Toss the tomatoes in a bowl with the garlic, herb leaves, and olive oil. Add the salt, and toss again. Spread the tomatoes in the pan. Bake them for about 1½ hours, until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
But I am pushing my luck. Today I’ll pick green tomatoes, the perfect ones, full sized and with no sign of disease, in hopes that they will ripen indoors, stretching the fresh-tomato season a little longer.
To can salsa cruda—literally, “raw sauce”—requires cooking it, but cooked tomato salsa just isn’t the same. Usually, it turns out runny. Commercial salsa makers compensate for this by adding tomato paste, which tastes, well, like tomato paste. To really ruin the texture, some add gums. Home canners often minimize runniness by using paste tomatoes, such as the oblong variety known as Roma. Low in both acid and sugar, these firm, fleshy tomatoes taste bland and boring.
To make canned tomato salsa with both a thick texture and an excellent flavor, I decided to bake some of the water out of assorted tasty tomatoes before mixing them with onions and peppers. Here’s how I did it:
Thick Tomato Salsa
5 pounds tomatoes, preferably no larger than 2 inches wide or long 2 pounds green or ripe peppers, hot or mild, stemmed 1 pound onions 1 cup lime juice 1 ½ tablespoons pickling salt
Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Halve the tomatoes, and cut out any thick cores. Lay the tomato halves cut-side up in a single layer in two or three low-sided baking or roasting pans—glass, ceramic, or enameled pans will do. Don’t add any oil; you want the tomatoes to dry out. Bake them for about 3 hours, until they have noticeably shriveled but haven’t browned.
Drop the tomato pieces into a large nonreactive pot, halving any large ones with shears as you do so. Seed the peppers or not, depending on your heat tolerance. Then either mince the peppers and onions or chop them briefly in a food processor; be careful not to liquefy them. Add them to the pot along with the lime juice and salt. Stir.
Bring the salsa to a simmer, and simmer it for 10 minutes. Ladle the salsa into pint or half-pint mason jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Close the jars with two-piece caps, and process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.
Store the cooled jars in a cool, dry, dark place.
Makes about 6 pints
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