Tomatoes Galore: Tomato Fennel Spread & More

spread2.jpg

What do you do when you buy 25 lbs of tomatoes? 

Make a spread... that is, after making a ton of other tomato goodies. But first, I bet you are wondering why I bought so many tomatoes.  Well, it's the end of the season and our farmer's market had an offer I just couldn't refuse.  So after making containers upon containers of Roasted Tomatoes...
 

AND Tomato Sauce, to freeze for the fall months...

AND Oven Dried Tomatoes...

 These were easy.  P lace on parchment paper & s prinkle oregano on tomatoes. Roast at 200 degrees for HOURS.  These took 7 hours, then I let them dry out more in the warm, but turned off oven overnight.  

These were easy.  Place on parchment paper & sprinkle oregano on tomatoes. Roast at 200 degrees for HOURS.  These took 7 hours, then I let them dry out more in the warm, but turned off oven overnight.  

 Just like sun dried tomatoes, pack these in olive oil and use at will.

Just like sun dried tomatoes, pack these in olive oil and use at will.

I looked at my cutting board and saw tons of tomato tops.  

I know, you are thinking, just toss those away, don't I have enough tomato product already?  But it seemed like so many to just throw out. (I must have been channeling my grandmothers who never wasted anything.)  I then realized I had a fennel stalk that needed to be used before it was abused by age and I got the idea for a tomato jam.  I figured it would be like making regular ole fruit jam, but thought I would quickly google tomato jam to see if I was on the right track.  It seems no matter how you slice it when making tomato jam, besides the usual need for sugar, you also need an acid. I took what I had and cooked up the following.  I'm calling mine a spread because it's more spread-like than jam, which I think is pretty darn good.

 

Ingredients

3 c Tomato tops (core cut out)
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly (no stalks or fronds)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 T honey
3 T sugar
2/3 c white wine vinegar
salt, pepper, oil

 
 Onions & fennel sweating up a storm, getting caramelized together.

Onions & fennel sweating up a storm, getting caramelized together.

 Tomatoes cooked down with vinegar, sugar & honey.

Tomatoes cooked down with vinegar, sugar & honey.

 Buzz it up, but leave it a bit chunky.

Buzz it up, but leave it a bit chunky.

INSTRUCTIONS

Sweat the onions and fennel in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Once translucent, add the honey and sugar and let melt down.  Add vinegar and tomatoes and simmer over low heat for an hour to hour and half until all the vegetables breakdown.  Use an emulsion blender to puree it all up.  I took out some of the liquid, as I could see it would have been too much and made it soupy instead of a chunky spread.  Store in an airtight jar. Here are some used ways to use this "leftover tomato top" spread.

  • Add it as a condiment to a cheese platter
  • Top grilled fish
  • Slather it on a baked potato
  • Jazz up a plain salad
  • Spread it on a sandwich and grill it up, like I did below.  Enjoy 'spreading' the love.
 The "spread": Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, baguette and of course, tomato fennel spread

The "spread": Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, baguette and of course, tomato fennel spread

 Slather it one side, olive oil on the other and start adding the rest of the goodies.

Slather it one side, olive oil on the other and start adding the rest of the goodies.

 I grilled the sandwich in a cast iron pan to get the bread crispy and the cheese melted.  Served it with some   Spicy Crunch Slaw   and rice/beans.

I grilled the sandwich in a cast iron pan to get the bread crispy and the cheese melted.  Served it with some Spicy Crunch Slaw and rice/beans.

 My sister, Jilly & niece, Gabrielle: Happy Customers !!

My sister, Jilly & niece, Gabrielle: Happy Customers !!