The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is bursting at the seams with tomatoes, many of which are heirloom varieties. Heirloom tomatoes are generally varieties that have been around for 50 years or more, or have been passed down through generations of a family.
Put your standard definition of a tomato as being red and round on the shelf, and come to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market to celebrate heirloom tomatoes. The colors are vast including many shades of red, yellow, orange, purple (black) and even green when fully ripe; some are even bi-colored. The shapes of heirloom tomatoes can be quite different from your standard expectations, but don’t let that stop you from trying them. The flavors are robust and the fruit is thick, making them great for sauces.
We have our small family farmers to thank for bringing back some of these amazing tomatoes. After the 1940’s when large farms replaced small farms and large grocery stores required long distance mass distribution, tomato variety was chosen based on the ability to store for long periods, resist bruising during transportation and look like the “perfect” tomato. Unfortunately, that also meant sacrificing flavor and variety. So come to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market to support our local small family farms and taste their heirloom tomato varieties. It will redefine your definition of the “perfect” tomato.
When you’re at the farmers’ market ask the farmers which tomato they recommend for the sauce recipe below. The Tomato Sauce Primavera recipe is from the “Farmers’ Market Favorite Recipes” cookbook, available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market and Cornell Cooperative Extension in Ballston Spa.
Tomato Sauce Primavera
10-12 pounds tomatoes*
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions*
½ cup chopped carrots*
1½ cups chopped celery*
1 cup chopped green peppers*
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic*
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped fresh basil* or 2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme* or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh oregano* or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 10-20 seconds. Peel, seed and chop tomatoes in food processor or by hand. You should end up with 9-10 cups. Heat oil and sauté the onions and carrots until the onions are golden and wilted.
Add green peppers, celery and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, herbs and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Leave the sauce chunky or process in a food processor to desired texture. Cool to room temperature. Fill freezer containers, label, date and store in the freezer.
Makes 4-5 pints (12 servings).
Per Serving: 160 calories; 6 g fat (0.5 g sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 4 g fiber; 80 mg sodium. Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (25% daily value), Vitamin C (130% dv).
Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market on High Rock Avenue. For information about food and nutrition contact Diane Whitten at Cornell Cooperative Extension at 885-8995or firstname.lastname@example.org.