So the tomato plants in the back yard are starting to look weedy and droopy, but the tomatoes are ripening faster than you can say Hellmann’s.
What to do?
Every season, it seems, I try and come up with new ways to capitalize on the salient characteristic of homegrown tomatoes — their juiciness — in new recipes.
This year it has been this simple tomato bread pudding that takes advantage of two ingredients we always have around the house:
Here’s how I made this one:
The verdict? Very good, with that inimitable garden tomato flavor ringing through the squishy, cheesy, custardy richness. A green salad and bottle of cold riesling completed the meal.
By the way, here I a recipe I published a couple of years ago with a wholly different solution to using up those good tomato juices. I’d be curious to hear what you do with your tomato glut.
A sublime use for tomatoes, but be patient, recipe is balky
As much as I love the recipe I’m about to share, I have to first warn you: It doesn’t always work. And then there’s the slight issue that it could break a tooth. Other than that, it’s brilliant.
It begins with a garden tomato. Like many home gardeners and farmers market shoppers, I find myself suddenly awash in juicy summer tomatoes. At this point in the season I am too greedy to share, yet unwilling to let any go to waste. So we are having tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I am even loath to let the tomato juices go to waste and have been known to collect them from platters and salad bowls for impromptu beverages.
Here’s where serendipity steps in. As I was cleaning out the pantry one afternoon, I came across a container of bulgur that needed using up. Aha. Bulgur is cracked wheat that has been parboiled and dried. To prepare it, you can toast it and stir it into broth to make a pilaf. Or you can simply cover it with warm liquid and let it sit for half an hour or so. I prefer the latter method because, in addition to being greedy, I am also lazy. Yet I also like the chewier texture of simply reconstituted bulgur.
So what if the tomato juices did all the work? I cut up a garden tomato and a cucumber and tossed them with bulgur, olive oil, lemon juice and a few seasonings. I packed it in a container, brought it to work and enjoyed a rather crunchy lunch. Much of the bulgur was tender (and so bright tasting!), but there were a few tooth-breakers. Not bad, but …
What if I left the bulgur on the bottom of the container and let all the juices drip down? Lunch No. 2 was better, much better, until I unearthed a patch of hard grain. But it was so delicious I ate every bit and just assumed that it would continue to expand benignly in the stomach.
For lunch No. 3, I had one last idea. I rinsed the bulgur in warm tap water and then layered it under the tomatoes. It was uniformly tender-chewy and alive with the flavor of summer. I think it’s more or less a successful recipe by this point, but that’ll be up to you to decide.
Summer Tomato and Bulgur Salad
Hands on: 2 minutes
Total time: At least 1 1/2 hours
You can easily prepare this salad for a family in a large serving bowl. Sliced fresh peppers and feta cheese would make it a main course.
Rinse the bulgur under warm tap water in a colander, then spread in the bottom of a food storage container that is large enough to toss the ingredients in. Quarter and slice the tomato and layer it on top. Sprinkle the oil, lemon juice, mint, oregano, salt and pepper over the tomato. Peel and slice the cucumber and place the slices over the top. Snap a lid on the container and leave it at room temperature for at least 1 1/2 hours. Before eating, toss the ingredients.
Per serving: 386 calories (percent of calories from fat, 33), 10 grams protein, 60 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams fiber, 16 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 51 milligrams sodium.