Oh, the tomatoes, we all moaned as we gloried in the late September downpour, with its dramatic thunder, lightning and hail.
It is, of course, impossible not to be thrilled by the rain yet at the same time it is sad to know we will be saying goodbye to tomatoes soon. My advice? Eat them now, every which way, and preserve what you can by drying, freezing or canning.
It’s a perfect time for simple homemade tomato sauces, which practically make themselves from super-ripe tomatoes. It’s also a great time to roast tomatoes in the oven for rich soups and stews, either now or in the dead of winter, when it’s good to realize we’ve planned ahead.
Local eggs will soon be slowing down, too; hens take their winter break as days shorten and nights lengthen. These days, we have enough small producers that we should have local pastured eggs throughout the winter, but they won’t be as abundant as they were in the summer months.
Today’s recipes are for tomato dishes that I’ve been enjoying recently, foods I’ve known of for years but had not cooked myself until recently. Now that I’ve worked out my own versions, I’m pleased with the results and ready to share them with you.
For more tomato recipes, including late summer tomato sauce and oven-roasted tomatoes, visit “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
Eggs baked or poached in a spicy tomato sauce is a popular dish in the Middle East, where it is known as shakshouka or some variation of that name. Its popularity has spread throughout the Mediterranean and there are many regional variations, with such additions as chorizo in Spain. You may find it with merguez sausage as a Moroccan lamb sauce, with green olives and with warm pita instead of bread alongside. It is typically prepared in a clay pot, often a large one that serves several people. In this version, I make a single serving, a perfect dinner for one on a cool fall night. It is easily doubled or tripled and you can make it in either individual pots or one large one. Just make sure the sauce is good — this means tasting it several times as you prepare it — and do not overcook the eggs; the yolks should be hot but still liquid.
Shakshouka (Eggs Baked in Spicy Tomato Sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ small yellow onion, cut into small dice
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
— Kosher salt
1 to 2 teaspoons hot Spanish paprika, to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika, to taste
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and peeled
1 to 2 Anaheim-type chilies or 1 poblano, seared, peeled, seeded and cut into medium julienne
2 farm eggs, at room temperature
2 ounces feta cheese, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro
— Black pepper in a mill
— Hot bread, such as a Raymond Bakery’s baguette
Put the olive oil into a small sauté pan set over medium heat, add the onion and saute until soft and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté 2 minutes more, season with salt and stir in the paprikas and cumin.