Tomatoes the Old-Fashioned Way
I’ve been reading the The Little House on the Prairie series to my six-year-old at bedtime. We just happen to be on The Long Winter and were reading “Fall of the Year” just a couple of days ago, where the Ingalls were surprised by an early hard frost. Ma and Laura picked all the ripe tomatoes from the blackened vines and made “almost a gallon of preserves.” I wondered if this was just an old way of saying canned tomatoes, but later on it is referred to as sweet preserves by Mary. So did they have tomato jam on toast for breakfast? Does anyone know how people used tomatoes in the 1870s-1880s? Or canning and preserving practices in general back then?
Ma then goes on to make green tomato pickle. People still do this today; Frugal Upstate has a recipe for Fireballs–try them if you dare.
I wonder if Ma Ingalls had ever heard of basil and Parmesan cheese, much less pesto, since she thought her green tomato pickles were going to be “a real treat” with their baked beans that winter. We consider this pizza a real treat.
Roll out your favorite pizza dough, or use a pre-made crust. (I think the inspiration for this pizza actually used a Boboli.) Slather your crust with pesto. Cover it generously with chopped fresh tomatoes. (If you’re using paste tomatoes, you can probably use slices, but other kinds of tomatoes have too much seed cavity and can make the crust soggy if you don’t cut them finer and lose some of the juice by doing so.) Then put your grated cheese on top: mozzarella or provolone is typical, but any cheese that isn’t too strong will probably work, especially if you’re hungry. Bake at 450 F for 20 minutes. Then sprinkle some chopped basil on top.
As you can see from the photo, we were experimenting with toppings. The peppers were only intended to get warm but remain crunchy, and the cheese was probably Colby-Jack that needed to get used up. It can be different every time.
Chickpea And Tomato Salad
This is easy, with an unexpected and sophisticated set of flavors. I love sopping up the juices with good bread.
1/4 cup scallions — sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 19 ounce cans chickpeas, canned — drained and rinsed
2 cups ripe tomatoes — chopped*see note
Place everything but chickpeas and tomatoes in a large bowl and whisk until blended. Add chickpeas and tomatoes; gently toss to coat and combine. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.
NOTE: The original recipe specified chopped, seeded plum tomatoes. I never bother to seed them, and I don’t worry about what kind of tomato. I do try to chop them so they’re the same size as the chickpeas, however. The salad seems easier to eat that way.